TORONTO - The message wasn't exactly "got 'em just where we want 'em'' after their beatdown in Game 4 of the ALCS, but the Blue Jays weren't sweating it.
After all, the always loose AL East champions faced elimination in the Division Series against the Rangers, trailing 0-2 in the best-of-five, so a clear message emerged after Tuesday's 12-run loss that put them in a 3-1 hole:
We've been there.
"They've done it before,'' manager John Gibbons said early Wednesday afternoon. "It definitely wasn't easy. But we proved to ourselves we could do it.''
It will take a Herculean effort to do it again, but the Blue Jays have taken the first step.
Behind a brilliant outing by Marco Estrada and a break-it-open, bases-clearing double by the slumping Troy Tulowitzki in a four-run sixth inning, the Blue Jays beat the Royals, 7-1, in Game 5 of the ALCS in front of 49,325 at Rogers Centre.
"It's possible,'' said Tulowitzki, whose three-run double on a 99-mph fastball from reliever Kelvin Herrera made it 5-0. "That's how we're looking at it. Get to Game 7 and anything can happen.''
Game 6 is Friday night in Kansas City. The Blue Jays, trailing three games to two, still face quite a task, but they are likely to go with the starters they trust most. David Price will start Game 6, with Long Island's Marcus Stroman ready to go on regular rest for a potential Game 7.
"We were in a similar situation against Texas, happened to win two games in their park,'' said Price, whom Gibbons nearly called on in relief in the seventh. "Today Marco did a fantastic job.''
Estrada, the loser to Edinson Volquez in a 5-0 Game 1 loss when he allowed three runs, was terrific in the rematch. Estrada threw 72/3 shutout innings before Salvador Perez's homer made it 6-1.
"He knew the magnitude of this game, for the team, for the city, for us,'' catcher Dioner Navarro said. "He just did an unbelievable job.''
Only two runners reached base before the Perez homer -- Alcides Escobar on a single in the fourth and Lorenzo Cain on a walk in the seventh. After Alex Gordon followed Perez with a single, Aaron Sanchez relieved and Estrada left the mound accompanied by a stadium-shaking roar.
"Just tried to take it all in, how loud the stadium got,'' said Estrada, who allowed one run and three hits, striking out five and walking one.
Comparing this start to his last one, Estrada said: "This time around, I had better fastball command. That was the key to this game.''
Royals manager Ned Yost agreed, calling Estrada "dynamite. His changeup was fantastic. He didn't give us anything to hit.''
Volquez retired his first four batters before Chris Colabello swatted an 0-and-2 changeup to left-center for his second homer of the postseason, giving the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
The righthander was mostly outstanding after Colabello's homer, allowing three hits through five innings. But he ran into trouble in the sixth, losing command and his patience with plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Leadoff man Ben Revere walked before Volquez's first pitch to Josh Donaldson hit him on the left elbow. Volquez fell behind Jose Bautista 3-and-1 before he fouled back five straight fastballs. He eventually drew a walk on a borderline curveball to end the 10-pitch at-bat, loading the bases for Edwin Encarnacion.
The designated hitter drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0. Yost then called on Herrera, who gave up Tulowitzki's double.
Speaking of the full-count pitch, Bautista said, "It was very close,'' with a wry smile. "You could argue I got the benefit of the call. I was relieved.''