R.A. Dickey's Game 4 clunker puts Blue Jays in daunting ALCS hole

TORONTO -- After whipping Kansas City and re-energizing their fans in Game 3, the Toronto Blue Jays fell into a hole so deep in the first two innings of Game 4 that they could have placed the CN Tower in it. And they just kept digging it deeper until you could no longer see the top of the Tower.

Starter R.A. Dickey got a questionably early hook in Game 4 of the division series last week when manager John Gibbons pulled him with a six-run lead just one out from qualifying for his first postseason win. The only questioning of his removal Tuesday was whether it should have come even sooner. With his knuckleball clearly not knuckling well, Dickey gave up five runs in the first two innings and the bullpen gave up nine more in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings in a 14-2 loss to the Royals.

That was a massive deficit to overcome and Toronto's bats did not come close. Noted flyball pitcher Chris Young held the Blue Jays to two runs and struck out four in 4 2/3 innings and the Kansas City bullpen shut them down after that. Things got so bad the previously enthusiastic crowd began booing.

The loss put the Blue Jays down 1-3 in the series, which means they must win three games in a row, including two more in Kansas City. That won't be easy, but there is precedent. In fact, that's exactly what the Royals did against the Blue Jays in their previous ALCS matchup back in 1985.

Still, they are going to have pitch and hit a whole lot better to do so.

Thumbs up: Liam Hendriks held the Royals scoreless and to just one hit in 4 1/3 innings after taking over for Dickey with two on in the second inning. But that was it for the good news.

Thumbs down: Dickey had a horrible start, allowing five runs, two home runs, walking two and hitting a batter in 1 2/3 innings. While Hendriks was great in relief, he was followed by LaTroy Hawkins who allowed three runs and didn't retire a batter, pushing his ERA to 37.72 this postseason -- and all those runs, plus two more, scored with Ryan Tepera on the mound. Toronto's starting 4-8 hitters went a combined 1-for-18.

What's Next: Marco Estrada, who was one of the toughest pitchers to hit much of the season, will start for Toronto. He did not have a great Game 1, giving up three runs and failing to go six innings.