Heading into game 3 of the ALCS, the feeling is this: The Toronto Blue Jays have to win it, down 0-2 at this point, to show they have any sort of chance against the Cleveland Indians, dominating through elite pitching up to this point.
It is all about the pitching in this series, as the Indians lead 4-1 overall in runs. Their starters, Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin, have been terrific in their two starts, but just like in the series against the Boston Red Sox, it’s been the Indians use of their bullpen that makes the biggest difference. Cody Allen has been terrific and already has two saves in the two wins, but Andrew Miller stands like a giant above the rest thanks to his unhittable slider, which no one has figured out in this postseason.
Previous game: The Indians won 2-1 in game 2, with all the scoring done within three innings. Carlos Santana hit a home run, Josh Donaldson tied things up with an RBI double, followed by Francisco Lindor, probably the biggest impact-maker aside from Miller in this series, hitting an RBI single to center. From there, it was Tomlin holding on to the lead, Bryan Shaw with one easy out, Miller with two perfect innings and Cody Allen. The Blue Jays couldn’t get a walk or a hit against the bullpen. The Blue Jays bullpen did fine, but without run support, it gets forgotten.
Starting pitchers: Trevor Bauer will be on the mound, with his drone incident behind him. The 25-year old gave up two home runs in a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in the previous series, not completing five innings in that game. He pitched twice against the Blue Jays during the regular season, both wins, including a 13-strikeout performance in August. Devon Travis and Russell Martin have hit home runs off of him.
Marcus Stroman will be on the mound for the Blue Jays, his second appearance in the postseason. He allowed two runs in six innings as the Blue Jays beat the Orioles 5-2, getting a long rest of almost two weeks. He played very well in both of his appearances against the Indians this season, allowing only two runs in a total of 14 innings. However, the Blue Jays lost both games. Overall Indians players have batted .218 against him during his career.
As for batting, it’s really difficult to single anyone out. Francisco Lindor has been the one to turn to for the Indians. In Toronto? Maybe Josh Donaldson, and perhaps Edwin Encarnacion, just for his ability to draw walks. But so far, it seems the scores have more to do with rare mistakes by these fantastic pitchers than anything else.