KANSAS CITY, MO. – Edinson Volquez planned to pitch the Toronto Blue Jays inside in Game 1 of their American League Championship Series, just as he did during their contentious series earlier this season.
Then, after chatting with Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, he changed his mind.
"We know they got a lot of pull hitters over there, and power hitters, and he told me, 'How you feel pitching down and away?' And I said, 'I feel sexy tonight,'" Volquez recalled. "And he was like, 'All right, we're changing the plan right now. We're pitching those guys away.'"
They never touched him all night.
Volquez combined with three relievers on a three-hitter, Perez hit a soaring home run off Toronto starter Marco Estrada, and Kansas City rolled to a 5-0 victory Friday to open the best-of-seven series.
"Tonight was the Volquez show. He was tremendous," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He shut down a good-hitting team, I know that. His ball was ducking and darting everywhere."
Volquez ramped up his fastball to 97 mph, never allowing a runner past second base over six innings. His only trouble occurred when he walked the first two batters in the sixth, but he wriggled out of it without any damage.
He did not allow a hit until his 56th pitch, when Chris Colabello chopped a single up the middle with two outs in the fourth. It snapped a postseason hitless streak of 10⅔ innings for the Royals.
The Royals' bullpen finished off the club's eighth consecutive ALCS victory.
"There was a lot of energy," said Volquez, who had been 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in three career postseason starts. "I don't know. I was just making my pitches."
Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain drove in runs off Estrada (1-1), while Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales tacked on two more off LaTroy Hawkins to put the game away.
The Blue Jays' three hits were their fewest ever in a postseason game. They were shut out five times in the regular season.
As if the outcome wasn't bad enough for them, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion left in the eighth inning to get X-rays on the middle finger of his left hand. The initial report was a strain of the ligament.
"He's been battling this thing," Gibbons said. "We'll see how it goes."
The Royals will try to take a 2-0 series lead when they send Yordano Ventura to the mound on Saturday. Toronto will start former Cy Young Award winner David Price.