This was not a WAR.
This was a massacre with some late-inning lipstick dressing the slaughtered pig.
While the Kansas City Royals have become known for their epic comebacks, it did not take much time for the Toronto Blue Jays to put this game out of reach.
After a relatively effective first--at least in terms of run prevention--Johnny Cueto imploded in the second and third, failing to record even a single out in the third before forcing Ned Yost's [too?] patient right index finger to summon Kris Medlen from the bullpen.
When Cueto left the game--head shaking in embarrassed disbelief as mocking chants of his name rained down from the raucous Canucks populating the booming Rogers Centre--Kansas City trailed 7 - 2 with a runner on [don't worry, he scored], and the game effectively over.
The Royals wasted little time jumping on the scoreboard. Alcides Escobar sent Marcus Stroman's second pitch of the night flaring into shallow right field. Jose Bautista laid out into a rigid, old-man dive. As he met the turf, the sinking liner bounced just in front of his glove and made its way toward the wall. The ball died on the turf about fifty feet behind Bautista. With Escobar off to the races and Bautista unable to suss out just what had happened to the ball, Li'l Hercules coasted into third base standing up with a lead-off triple.
A Ben Zobrist ground-out to second later, the first Kansas City run of the night waltzed across home plate.
Stroman settled down and finished off the inning without allowing another baserunner, but the Royals led 1 - 0 heading to the bottom of the first.
Johnny Cueto started the home-half of the first off confidently enough--inducing a Ben Revere fly out to former Blue Jay Alex
is Rios and striking out Josh Donaldson swinging--before walking Jose Bautista in a six-pitch plate appearance. Edwin Encarnacion came to the plate, and he and Cueto became embroiled in an eight-pitch at-bat that finally ended in a strike-out but not before Cueto's pitch count had been run to 26 pitches through the first.
Kendrys Morales started the second off with a single up the middle and swapped places at first with Salvador Perez on a one-out fielder's choice. Alex Gordon ripped a two-out single to right, moving Perez to third, but Alex Rios stranded them with a fly to center fielder Kevin Pillar, who an inning earlier made a spectacular catch to rob Lorenzo Cain of extra bases.
Pressure mounted in the second, as Troy Tulowitzki stroked a one-out single to left. Working Russell Martin inside, Cueto hit him on the elbow guard, putting runners at first and second with just one out. Pillar grounded to short, but with Pillar racing up the line, the Royals were only able to get the force at second. Pillar stole second uncontested, and Ryan Goins worked an endless at-bat, fouling off what seemed like 78 pitches before finally singling to left. Gordon came home with the throw, but the turf slowed the momentum of the grounder enough to buy Pillar the fraction of a second it took to beat Gordon's throw.
Toronto led 2 - 1 with Goins at second and two outs.
Ben Revere worked a full-count walk to put two aboard. Josh Donaldson came through with a two-out RBI single through the left side. Cueto finally escaped the inning with a routine Baustista fly ball to right, but not before expending another 24 pitches nursing a 3 -1 deficit.
Ben Zobrist smashed a one-out double to straightaway center, and Lorenzo Cain ripped a grounder up the middle that Tulowitzki fielded but was too deep to catch the fleet-footed Cain at first, leaving him standing at the crown of the infield with the ball in his glove and Royals at the corners.
With the double play in order, Eric Hosmer grounded to the right side of the infield. Chris Colabello tossed to second for the front end of the double play, but Hosmer raced up the line and went into a head-first dive barely beating the throw to first. With Zobrist just 90 feet from home to begin with, the second Royals' run of the night crossing safely.
Kendrys Morales singled to put another Royal in scoring position, but Mike Moustakas popped up to end the scoring threat for the Royals.
The Jays went right back to work against Cueto in the bottom of the third.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a ground-ball single through the shift on the left side of the infield. Cueto then missed on four straight pitches to Colabello to put two aboard, sounding alarm bells across a worried nation.
The struggling Troy Tulowitzki stepped to the plate and--after a near-miss on a Cueto mistake in the zone--crushed a meatball up in the zone.
6 - 2, Blue Jays.
While the home run probably should have ended Cueto's night as he simply could not keep his pitches down, the Royals didn't have long reliever Kris Medlen warming soon enough. After another four-pitch walk, this time to Russell Martin, Ned Yost and Salvador Perez met at the mound to try to stall for Medlen. Kevin Pillar doubled to the gap in left-center, and Martin raced around the bases. Momentum of the grounder killed once again by this damnable turf, Toronto's catcher beat the relay throw home from Escobar comfortably.
Medlen was finally warmed up enough to enter in Cueto's stead, but the Jays held a 7 - 2 advantage with a runner at second and no outs recorded in the third.
It did not take long to realize that the body inhabiting a Royals uniform on the mound was immaterial.
Medlen notched two quick outs, but then left a strike middle down to presumptive AL MVP Josh Donaldson, who destroyed the ball. The ball broke apart on a molecular level--the Jays, Royals, and umpiring crew granting its status as a home run despite the fact that the ball's existence can never again be verified.
Stroman dispatched of the Royals in the top of the fourth with negative seven pitches, and before he could muster an exhalation, Kris Medlen had to march back out to the mound to face the firing squad, trailing 9 -2.
Colabello erased a lead-off single with a double-play grounder, and Medlen struck out Tulowitzki to show that it was still possible to complete an inning against the Blue Jays without ceding a run.
After a seven-pitch fourth, Stroman yielded a second-pitch single to the aggressive Escobar. Zobrist lined a screamer to the wall in right that Bautista nearly caught on the warning track, putting runners at second and third with no outs. Cain hit a shallow liner to Bautista, who caught it charging and came home with the throw. Escobar tagged up but held fast, electing not to test the right fielder's arm. This turned out to be a smart call, as he'd have been out by a mile, and Stroman followed spiked a wild pitch on the second pitch of the next plate appearance that allowed Escobar to trot across home plate.
9 - 3, Blue Jays.
Hosmer fouled a slider off his foot and then his face. Bleeding from his mouth--a sad but apt metaphor for the night's developments to this point as the Royals seemed to be just as good at drawing their own blood as they were at drawing the Jays'--before striking out on a slider in the dirt.
Kendrys Morales walked, and Mike Moustakas singled to the gap in right-center to plate the fourth Royals' run of the game.
With Mark Lowe warming in the pen for Toronto, John Gibbons left Stroman in to face Salvador Perez. Perez went after the righty's first offering, a sinker in the lower outside quadrant of the strike zone, grounding out harmlessly to short. This snuffed out the Royals' rally at two runs.
Medlen looked like he was going to make quick work of the bottom third of the Jays' lineup, striking out Martin and getting Pillar to ground out harmlessly, but then he served up his second homer of the night to Ryan Goins, who had just five in roughly half a season's worth of plate appearances in the regular season. Revere hit an infield fly ball to end the inning, but the Jays led 10 - 4.
Dos Alexes grounded out to short for the first two outs of the sixth, but Alcides Escobar sent a hung slider through the left side of the infield to put a runner aboard for Zobrist. Unfortunately, Zobrist grounded just to the right side of second base. Goins fielded it cleanly and with enough time to record the out at first.
Medlen got a first-pitch ground-out courtesy of Donaldson to start the sixth, but he lost Bautista on a six-pitch walk to put one aboard. Fortunately, he got a lazy fly to right from Encarnacion and a routine grounder to third from Colabello to escape the inning with no damage stemming his issued free pass.
With Stroman still pitching, Lorenzo Cain missed an infield single by a fraction of a second to kick off the top of the seventh. Eric Hosmer worked the count full after digging himself an 0-2 hole and then ripped a ground-ball single through the right side of the infield.
This would mark Marcus Stroman's last pitch of the night, responsible for the runner at first. While far from outstanding, he shined in comparison to his Royal counterpart. Stroman went 6.1 innings, allowing 11 hits while notching just one walk and one strikeout against the aggressive Kansas City lineup. When he exited, all four of Kansas City's runs fell on his shoulders. Of course, when the starter for the other team gives up eight earned without recording an out in the third, the bar for an acceptable performance is so low as to render nearly every start palatable.
Aaron Sanchez entered to face the Royals' switch-hitting designated hitter and teased a deep fly ball out the other way to left from the bat of Morales for the second out of the inning. After working the count full, Moustakas grounded to Goins who was playing on what would have been the outfield grass were this a real stadium, not the devious creation of SkyNet.
Amassing just 53 pitches to this point, Medlen came back out for the home half of the seventh with two runs against his ledger through his first four innings of work. After nibbling his way to a full count, Medlen got a break on a pitch low and away, getting Tulowitzki looking for his fifth strikeout of the night. Medlen again worked the count full to Martin, and again got a called third strike, this one actually on the black, for his sixth K of the night, the second of the backward variety. Pillar flew out harmlessly to left, and the Royals headed to the top of the eighth still trailing 10 - 4.
At this point, Toronto owned a 99.2% win expectancy.
Between innings, Tulowitzki thought it prudent to demonstrably argue the called third strike in the previous frame from across the diamond and got tossed while taking the field on defense.
Chad Chris Chester Cliff Pennington entered as his replacement, manning second while Goins shifted over to short.
Right-hander Mark Lowe entered in the eighth. While Martin and home plate umpire John Hirschbeck continued to surreptitiously argue the strike zone between pitches, Lowe sent down Perez, Gordon, and Rios in order with ease.
Southpaw reliever Franklin Morales entered to try to get through the eighth, but the member of the Royals' pen who most closely resembles a LOOGY labored through the Jays' lineup, allowing one run while working around three baserunners on 20 pitches, in part saved by a sliding Rios snow-cone catch along the line in right for the final out of the inning.
With Royals' mole coming to the mound in the form of Liam Hendriks, Alcides Escobar legged out an infield single, and Zobrist followed with a "Canadian double" that hit off the lip of the turf at first and skipped under Justin Smoak's glove but was ruled a non-error due to the politeness of the hometown official scorer.
A pair of Royals standing in scoring position with no outs, Lorenzo Cain sacrificed to the warning track in right, moving both runners 90 feet, plating the fifth Kansas City run of the night. Eric Hosmer followed with a ground-ball single up the middle, plating Zobrist to draw the score to 11-6.
John Gibbons smelled a rat and thought it best to finger his closer, 20-year-old Roberto Osuna.
Kendrys Morales saw three pitches and then obliterated a four-seamer left in the middle of the plate.
11 - 8, Toronto.
Osuna induced consecutive ground outs from Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez, and Toronto finally closed the door on the Royals, though the end result was never really in doubt.
The game was not a three-run game, despite that score. The Royals were thoroughly throttled and simply were not going to be able to claw out of the grave they dug themselves tonight.
Both teams take to the field tomorrow afternoon with Toronto granted the opportunity to tie the series thanks to dismal pitching from the Royals' starting pitcher.
This was not the Cueto the Royals wanted to see. His performance was brutal, and his inability to generate a downward plane on his fastball basically put the game out of reach with six innings to go.
Kansas City will roll the loaded dice tomorrow, sending the most extreme fly-ball pitcher in baseball to the mound in the Rogers Centre in the form of Chris Young. This could be drawn to a 2 - 2 tie quickly.