TORONTO - This horror show wasn't part of R.A. Dickey's narrative.

The 40-year-old knuckleballer, making his second career postseason start, failed to make it through two innings Tuesday in the Blue Jays' 14-2 loss to the Royals in Game 4 of the ALCS. The blowout at Rogers Centre has Toronto on the brink of elimination.

"It was ugly today,'' manager John Gibbons said. "No doubt about that.''

The defending American League champion Royals can send the AL East winners home Wednesday afternoon.

"It's sad when you can't perform to the level that you know you're capable of, and you don't get the results you hope to get,'' Dickey said. "It's painful for everybody.''

On the eve of the start, Dickey, with a half-smile, pondered being part of the Blue Jays' trade with the Mets in December 2012 that sent, among others, Noah Syndergaard to Queens.

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"What a script that would be if I could face Syndergaard in Game 7,'' Dickey said. "I'm hoping that we play those guys in the World Series. It would certainly make for a great narrative.''

Instead, it's the Royals' relentless lineup that is a victory away from a return to the Series. The first four Kansas City hitters reached base in a four-run first inning that took the noisy sellout crowd of 49,501 out of it early.

"We like the way we're playing right now,'' manager Ned Yost said. "Our offense has been really, really good.''

It produced 15 hits, with three from Alex Rios and two each by the first three in the lineup -- Alcides Escobar, Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain. Paulo Orlando, who pinch ran for Rios, also had two hits, making the No. 9 spot in the order 5-for-5.

Dickey allowed five runs (four earned), four hits and two walks in 12/3 innings. Zobrist hit a two-run homer in the first, and Rios led off the second with a homer that made it 5-0.

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"I felt great,'' Dickey said of his pregame work. "I had a great knuckleball, Russell [Martin] was having trouble handling it, it was so good in the bullpen. At this stage of the game, it can happen very quickly.''

The Royals, leading 5-2 late, assaulted the soft underbelly of the Blue Jays' bullpen for four runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to blow it open.

The only excitement by then for the remaining fans was the sight of infielder Cliff Pennington relieving with two outs in the ninth. The first position player ever to pitch in a postseason game allowed two hits in one-third of an inning and allowed two inherited runners to score.

Royals starter Chris Young, a 36-year-old righthander and former teammate of Dickey's with the Mets, more than did his job.

Quite a few observers, including some with the Royals, feared the worst in sending Young, a fly-ball pitcher, against the powerful Blue Jays, who routinely bludgeoned pitchers of all types at home.

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Young, on a short leash, allowed two runs and three hits in 42/3 innings in his first start at Rogers Centre. Winner Luke Hochevar pitched 11/3 innings of scoreless relief, followed by Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Franklin Morales, each of whom threw a scoreless inning.

The beatdown left Martin paraphrasing ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu.

"Don't put your enemy back up against [the wall] because they fight harder,'' said Martin, whose team won three straight in the ALDS against the Rangers, a club, unfortunately for the Blue Jays, not in the same class as the Royals. "So here we are, backs against the wall. We'll see what happens."