KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays set to lock up in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, perhaps it is fitting the teams played exactly seven games against each other in the regular season.
The Blue Jays held a slim 4-3 advantage in victories, but won three of four the last time the clubs met in a tense series in Toronto in late July. The Royals had just added Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, while the Blue Jays had made impact deals for both David Price and Troy Tulowitzki.
That series was at the start of a run when the Blue Jays won 14 of 15 games to surge toward the front of the American League East, with the Aug. 2 victory starting the Blue Jays on an 11-game winning streak.
Here is a summary of the seven games this season:
ROYALS 3, BLUE JAYS 0
July 10 at Kansas City
The high-powered Blue Jays offense was shut down by Royals starter Danny Duffy, who hadn’t won a game in six weeks. The Blue Jays entered the series with a major-league-leading 470 runs scored. The victory gave the Royals a six-game winning streak and improved their AL-best record to 51-34. Even at this early stage of the season, the two teams had reason to believe they could make a deep run. The Royals’ Eric Hosmer went 4-for-4.
BLUE JAYS 6, ROYALS 2
July 11 at Kansas City
It was just another victory for Mark Buehrle over the Royals, the 26th of his career, as the left-hander gave up two runs on five hits over seven innings. Edwin Encarnacion and Danny Valencia each hit home runs for the Blue Jays. Valencia had been traded by the Royals to the Blue Jays one year earlier. Toronto’s Jose Reyes had three hits and three steals. Royals starter Chris Young took the loss while working on three days' rest, giving up just three runs on five hits over six innings.
ROYALS 11, BLUE JAYS 10
July 12 at Kansas City
In the final game of the first half for both teams, Kansas City escaped with the victory in a wild one when they actually blew a seven-run lead. The Blue Jays scored eight runs in the sixth inning to take an 8-7 lead, but the Royals came right back with three in the bottom of the sixth. The Royals’ Paulo Orlando eventually won it with a home run in the eighth inning. The Royals entered the break with 52 victories, most in the American League.
BLUE JAYS 5, ROYALS 2
July 30 at Toronto
On the day the Blue Jays acquired left-handed starter Price from the Detroit Tigers, they celebrated by beating the Royals. It seemed only fitting that Price’s former catcher in Tampa Bay, Dioner Navarro, hit a two-run home run in the victory. The victory also came two days after the Blue Jays added Tulowitzki to the roster. It was the first game all season the Royals had given up three home runs. The game also marked the first Royals appearance for Zobrist, who was acquired in a trade from the Oakland Athletics two days earlier.
BLUE JAYS 7, ROYALS 6 (11 innings)
July 31 at Toronto
On the last day non-waiver trade deals could be made, the Royals showcased their top deadline acquisition, Cueto. The right-hander, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, made his Royals debut by giving up three runs on seven hits over six innings of a no-decision. The Blue Jays rallied on the Royals’ stingy bullpen, scoring three runs in the seventh inning against Ryan Madson to tie it. They won it in the 11th on Josh Donaldson’s RBI single. It was the Royals’ third consecutive defeat.
ROYALS 7, BLUE JAYS 6
August 1 at Toronto
In his third game with his new club, Zobrist hit home runs from both sides of the plate to author the tight victory. It was the first time Zobrist was a part of a victory with his new club and was taken aback by the team’s postgame celebration when water was splashed in his eyes, but has called it the moment he felt at home. Yordano Ventura picked up the victory despite giving up five runs over seven innings. The game unraveled after Buehrle, a four-time Gold Glove winner, committed an error and the Royals rallied for three runs.
BLUE JAYS 5, ROYALS 2
August 2 at Toronto
In the game that has set the backdrop for the upcoming ALCS, both teams argued and emptied the benches in a tense contest. Royals starter Edinson Volquez hit Donaldson with a first-inning pitch and threw inside and to the backstop against him in the third. Madson hit Tulowitzki with a pitch in the seventh, and when Jose Bautista followed with an RBI double, he barked at the pitcher. When Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez hit Alcides Escobar with a pitch in the eighth the benches cleared without incident. Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey delivered seven scoreless innings, but that was merely a side note in the end. Nobody knew it for sure at the time, but it sure seemed like the teams were destined to meet again.