ALCS 4: CLE vs. TOR & NLCS 3: CHC vs. LAD — Sweep denied, a Dodgy shutout
Well, baseball is anything but predictable, and the postseason basically amps that up to a thousand. The Indians went into this game hoping for their second sweep of the postseason, and the Cubs were looking to prove why they were the best team in the league this season. Both teams’ hopes and dreams crushed by the hometown boys wearing bright blue.
Game 1: Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays
The Indians were hoping for a one-then-done game this afternoon, but the Blue Jays clearly weren’t about to lose this series in front of their fans. Especially not after making a big deal about how they believe they’re a better team and somehow the series is getting stolen from them. So the Jays did what they do best — they fought back. Hard.
In comparison, the Jays’ starter Sanchez did a really fantastic job of giving the Blue Jays offense a chance to do something under his command. Sanchez went 6 innings, giving up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and the Indians’ lone run. In the 5th, Crisp worked a 1-out walk, moved to 2nd on a strikeout, and then scored on Perez’s double. When Sanchez handed things over to the bullpen, they breezed through the final third of the game in no time, shutting down the Indians in straight 9 outs.
The Indians’ starter Kluber actually had a pretty good night himself — 5 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs, and 7 strikeouts. But with a dip in the Indians’ offensive production, the Indians’ bullpen didn’t help matters, collectively adding 5 more hits, 3 more runs, 2 walks, and just 1 strikeout over the final 3 innings.
Kluber gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd to Donaldson to get things started for the Blue Jays. And in the 4th, Kluber gave up his 2 walks to lead off the inning before a 1-out single to Carrera scored the Jays’ second run. But the biggest damage would happen later in the game. In the 7th, Indians’ reliever Shaw loaded up the bases with a single, a self-inflicted throwing error, and an intentional walk. And no outs. Encarnacion singled home the first two runners, but the third runner was thrown out trying to get to 3rd for the first out of the inning.
A new pitcher shut things down, despite Encarnacion threatening from scoring position. However, he had his own issues when Carrera hit a nice 1-out triple (his second in as many days) and then scored on Pillar’s sacrifice fly to cap off the run-scoring today.
Final score: 5-1 Blue Jays, Indians lead series 3-1.
Game 2: Chicago Cubs at LA Dodgers
After a really stellar season, everything about the Cubs says “on paper” that they should easily dominate the postseason. But the problem with “on paper” is that you don’t have the “human factor” — the mistakes, the passion, the heroics, the adrenaline, the accidents, the on-purposes. The Cubs were smart, and they sent up one of their best pitchers to start tonight’s game (Arrieta), who normally would have shut the Dodgers down without blinking.
No such luck tonight. Pretty much from the start of the game, the hometown team was determined to be victorious for their fans at Dodger Stadium. Their starter Hill threw a really great game, giving up just 2 hits and 2 walks during his 6 innings, and more importantly, keeping the Cubs scoreless. The rest of the bullpen continued that momentum and kept the Cubs from ever doing much more than 4 total hits all night, also combining with Hill for a grand total of 10 strikeouts.
Like I said, Arrieta normally would have a better outing, but the “human factor” includes bad days and off days and surprisingly amazing days. Unfortunately for Arrieta and the Cubs, it was more of the former. Into the 6th inning, he gave up 6 hits and 4 runs. In the 3rd, the Dodgers got things started with Toles’ lead-off single. Toles would later score on Seager’s 2-out single to get them on the board. And they never looked back.
In the 4th, Reddick hit a nice 1-out single and then proceeded to unnecessarily steal both 2nd and 3rd bases. I say “unnecessarily” because Grandal’s big 2-out, 2-run home run scored him regardless of where he’d been on the bases at that point. And in the 6th, Turner led things off with a big solo shot up the middle. And that was the end of Arrieta’s disappointing night.
The Cubs’ relievers were a bit better at stemming the tide, but they still allowed 4 more hits, a walk, and 2 more runs. In the 8th, with 1 out, Puig singled and then scored on Pederson’s double. With Pederson then at 3rd after stealing the base, a groundout easily scored him to cap off the Dodgers’ night.
Final score: 6-0 Dodgers, Dodgers lead series 2-1.
Okay, a couple of things to discuss about today’s games. First, I love that Toronto is optimistic enough to believe they can come back and win the next three games to effectively pull a “Red Sox 2004”. But I hate to break it to any Canadian fans out there, the Blue Jays 2016 are really not the Red Sox 2004. While I expect an off-day every now and then, the chances of the Indians not recovering from today’s loss is really dismal. (And all my family from NE Ohio is cheering as I write this.)
In the other game, the Cubs were the first team shutout two games in a row, with less than 5 hits since 1919. (In 1919, it was the other Chicago team with that honor, and before them the 1908 Tigers.) Look, I think the Cubs are a really good team, and like I said before they are great “on paper” and should have breezed their way through this postseason. But they haven’t. And that says something. It says that the Dodgers aren’t about to let this postseason just steam-roll over them, and it says that the Cubs weren’t prepared for a fight. That being said, I’d anticipate they might be clued in a little bit now, but whether that’s too late to pull it off, only time will tell.