ALCS 3: CLE vs. TOR — A little blood, a little “bad circumstances”, a lot of good bullpen
Twelve years ago, we had the bloody sock. Tonight, we have the bloody hand. An image I cannot get out of my brain, the Indians starter Bauer injured his pinkie finger Thursday in a freak accident while repairing his personal drone, requiring 10 stitches. League rules forbid “any type of accessory to be attached to the hand”, so Bauer couldn’t even add a protective bandage or partial glove.
When blood started appearing on the ball, the mound, his cleats, and smeared on his uniform, both managers and the home plate umpire agreed that maybe it wasn’t going to be his night after his pitching pulled out a few of the stitches. So after just 21 pitches (and 2 walks), Bauer exited the game in the 1st inning. Oddly, the Toronto fans gave him a rather loud cheer and ovation, which I can’t figure out was in his favor (for trying to pitch injured) or for theirs (for getting out of the game before he could shut the Jays down). Bauer (and the Indians) hope he can pitch again this postseason (read: the World Series) with some time for his finger to actually heal.
Anyway, aside from that, let’s be honest the biggest story in this postseason is the Cleveland Indians and their ridiculous bullpen, led by the likes of (who else) Andrew Miller, who are just dominating the Blue Jays this series. Which is a little strange, to be honest, because the Blue Jays’ bullpen is very strong in itself.
Backing up, the Indians actually struck first tonight, and the Blue Jays spent the rest of the night playing catch-up. Honestly, Toronto’s starter Stroman did not have the best night, which began with a lead-off walk to Santana, who scored on Napoli’s 2-out double.
But the Blue Jays tied things up (beginning the game of “catch-up” tonight) when Saunders led-off the 2nd with a solo home run. That didn’t stay there long, as Napoli came back in the 4th with his own lead-off home run. In the bottom of the 5th, the Blue Jays led things off with Carrera’s nice triple (barely beating the tag). Carrera then scored on a ground out to tie up the game again.
In the 6th, the Indians broke the tie with Kipnis’ lead-off solo home run. With 1 out and Napoli on base with a walk, that was the end of Stroman’s less than successful night. He’d been competing with the rotating door of excellent bullpen pitchers in Indians’ uniforms who weren’t really letting much happen for the Jays offensively. A wild pitch moved Napoli to 2nd so he could then score on Ramirez’s single. The Jays never did catch-up beyond this.
Allen and Miller split the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings and just shut the Blue Jays down. Normally, it’s Miller first and then Allen to close, but the Indians’ manager thought to flip the two, which set up Miller for his first postseason save.
Like I said before, I do have to give credit to the Blue Jays’ bullpen, which has been dominant not just in the postseason, but the entire season. Generally, once the starter is out of the game, teams have a hard time poking holes in Toronto’s pitching staff. Usually, you’re faced with either slumps or surges from the many aspects of the team. So, it’s actually rather refreshing to see consistency from a team in the postseason.
Final score: 4-2 Indians, Indians lead series 3-0.
Okay, so one of the Blue Jays’ star players (read: diva) was blaming things like the Indians “stealing signs” or “bad circumstances” (mainly what he considered a rigged strike zone) for the reason the Blue Jays weren’t winning this series. The Indians (and many general baseball fans) gave their “circumstances” as the conglomeration of things lining up for them — they’re hitting in the right places, scoring in the right places, and having a stellar showing in their pitching staff.
So, yeah, to the Blue Jays and their fans, that would seem like some pretty “bad circumstances” and that it’s tilted against the team from north of the border. But to the rest of the baseball world, it just sounds like their being petty and childish.
One team’s got to win, and one team’s go to lose. And it’s just awful when you’re the losing team. But seriously? Just play the game. There’s currently 26 other teams who would love to have your “bad circumstances” right now, for just a shot at the World Series this year. Right, Yankee Universe?