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Blue Jays and Royals both show plenty of on-field emotion

Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays throws

Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays throws his bat up in the air after he hits a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers in game five of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on Oct. 14, 2015 in Toronto. Credit: Getty Images / Tom Szczerbowski

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Those who dislike bat flips, long pauses of self-admiration in the batter's box, fist pumps and other overt displays of emotion on the baseball field will not enjoy this year's ALCS.

Which is a shame for them, because when the Blue Jays and Royals begin the series Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, with Toronto righthander Marco Estrada facing Kansas City righthander Edinson Volquez, it will be a matchup of the hands-down best teams in the American League.

But these teams don't seem to care for each other -- and neither is averse to being demonstrative in big moments.

The Royals, excellent pretty much throughout, captured the top seed at 95-67. The Blue Jays, after a splurge at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline that brought them David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, among others, blew past the Yankees with a 41-14 surge to capture the AL East title and the No. 2 seed at 93-69.

Part of that streak was three wins in four games against the Royals July 30-Aug. 2 at Rogers Centre. The final game, a 5-2 Toronto victory, featured three hit batsmen, a bench-clearing incident and three ejections.

The war continued in words afterward with Volquez, who hit Josh Donaldson that day and nearly hit him again, striking the most memorable blow by accusing the third baseman of "crying like a baby" to the umpires.

Neither team indicated Thursday that there would be any spillover from August, though Royals manager Ned Yost said his club will continue to "pitch inside aggressively" and centerfielder Lorenzo Cain said, "We're not going to back down, but I don't think it's going to carry over."

The feeling was the same in the Blue Jays' clubhouse.

"Throwing inside's part of the game," centerfielder Kevin Pillar said. "It's something we do too . . . You can't afford to give free baserunners. You hit a guy, that could be a run, and that can decide a game."

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer added: "You're not going to see guys over here try and retaliate for something that happened and they're not going to do that. Postseason is pitch by pitch, and you really can't afford to hit some guy if you want to. I don't think there's going to be any of that, but there's going to be a lot of emotion."

That much is certain. These clubs ranked 1 and 2, or something close to it, in another category besides record: showing emotion on the field, whether it be pitchers chest-pounding their way back into the dugout after a big strikeout or a bit of styling after a big home run.

It was the reason why the overwhelming reaction in the Royals' clubhouse to Jose Bautista's bat-flip-seen-round-the-world after his three-run blast that snapped a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning of ALDS Game 5 Wednesday night was a shrug.

The Royals, after all, have gotten under the skin of plenty of opposing teams this season with on-field shows of emotion.

"It's postseason," Hosmer said. "It's a feeling that comes up and you can't hide it. You know you're not showing a guy up. It's just pure emotion."

Neither manager sounded as if he is a fan of those displays, but the Blue Jays' John Gibbons said it's also the way of the world, saying just about every team does it, "maybe except the Yankees.''

"I think you look at all professional sports in general," Gibbons said. "Everybody celebrates more so than they used to be. And I think in our particular sport, if it's happening for your team, your guy hits a big hit, nobody minds it. If you're on the other side, nobody likes it. Personally, I don't like it, but I think we've all kind of moved on past that. Like I said, if it's for you, you don't mind and you turn your back. If it's against you, you're probably a little more vocal."


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