ALCS GAME 1: TORONTO BLUE JAYS AT KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Where: Kaufmann Stadium, Kansas City
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Clear, 55 degrees, wind 5 mph
Starting pitchers: TOR RHP Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13 ERA) / KCR RHP Edinson Volquez (13-9, 3.55 ERA)
Man, what a Division Series round that was. Each series lived up to the billing and several games provided classic moments that will endure as part of baseball history: the Cubs winning at Wrigley, the Blue Jays overcoming an 0-2 deficit and bat-flipping their way into the ALCS, the Royals pulling themselves up off the mat down four runs in the eighth inning in Houston, and the Mets beating Zack Greinke in a decisive Game 5 in Los Angeles. Hopefully that was all just an indication of what's to come, as the playoffs shift to baseball's Final Four.
The Championship Series begins on Friday night with the Royals hosting the Blue Jays in Game 1 with right-handers Marco Estrada and Edinson Volquez as your starters. Estrada was excellent in his only appearance of these playoffs so far when he allowed just one run across 6 1/3 innings in Game 3 against the Rangers. Volquez also pitched Game 3 of the Royals' series against the Astros, but lost after giving up three runs on five hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Both teams pack plenty of punch on offense, but no team in baseball has displayed the firepower of the Blue Jays this season. They led the majors in runs scored and and homers with three players - Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion - combining for 120 home runs this season.
The Royals can score runs as well with the seventh-ranked offense during the regular season. They do not hit as many homers, but add an element of speed that is a big factor this time of year. Perhaps that style will bode well, especially in Game 1 with the temperature in Missouri expected to drop to 55 degrees. The Blue Jays have plenty of power, but they will have to battle a chill in the air to get baseballs out of Kaufmann Stadium.