TORONTO — Ryan Goins boarded the Blue Jays’ team flight on Saturday night shouldering the blame for Toronto’s 6-3 loss to Kansas City in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
But by the time the plane landed, those guilty feelings had subsided.
"No one felt worse than me — I felt like I let the team down," said Goins, who misplayed a lead-off popup in shallow right field in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game, allowing Ben Zobrist to reach base and open the floodgates for a five-run Royals rally off Toronto starter David Price.
"On the flight home, guys were coming up to me (saying) ‘everybody has your back.’ No matter who it is … everybody would have their back too. That’s how we work here. That’s why we’re as great as we are."
Goins, known for his stellar defensive capabilities in the field, appeared poised to catch the seemingly harmless fly ball, putting his glove up in the air to signal right-fielder Jose Bautista away. But at the last second, Goins thought he heard Bautista call for it — he didn’t — and the ball fell to the ground.
Price, still looking for his first post-season win as a starter, had retired 18 batters in a row prior to that point and had a 3-0 lead entering the seventh inning. Zobrist’s hit was the first of six in the inning that saw Kansas City take control of the game and eventually a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series.
But with the ALCS shifting to Rogers Centre for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary, Goins’ miscue is behind him.
"I think when you change days momentum goes away," he said. "Yeah, they have two games on us right now, but momentum starts at zero tomorrow and we’ll try to create our own."
At an off-day workout at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon, Goins’ teammates continued to stand by the 27-year-old, who’s playing in just his first full MLB season.
"He’s helped us out more times than we can remember — he’s made big plays, gotten big hits," said centre-fielder Kevin Pillar, who’s also become known for his spectacular defence. "It was just an unfortunate play. It’s a play he makes 99 out of 100 times, 100 out of 100 times."
"One play is never going to be the defining moment in a game," added first baseman Chris Colabello. "It’s going to look like it in a lot of peoples’ eyes, and you’re going to have a lot of cameras in your face if you’re the guy who was involved in it, but I know where his heart is and where his effort-level is every day.
"I felt bad for him in the moment because we’ve all been there. … but that play didn’t make the difference in the game."