By: Nikolas Theodorakidis | @nikolastheo
This weekend was not great for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Jays scored one run in 18 innings in the two games in Cleveland, going 0-5 with runners in scoring position in Game One and going hitless after the third inning in Game Two. They squandered solid starts from Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ along the way. Both pitchers gave up two earned runs, falling victim to timely hits from Cleveland second baseman Francisco Lindor.
The team now faces the same scenario they faced in the American League Championship Series last year: coming home down two games to none. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet points out, 27 teams have fallen behind 0-2 in a League Championship Series and only three have advanced.
So, yeah, not great.
But, let’s not give up on the boys of summer just yet. There are more than enough reasons to believe that this season is not over.
When it comes to the pitching matchups, you’d have to think the Jays have the advantage for the next two games.
Game Three has Marcus Stroman pitching for the Jays against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer. Bauer and his 4.26 ERA were supposed to pitch in Game Two but he injured his finger—and this is true—fixing his drone. On paper, it would seem Stroman, coming off a good start in the Wild Card game, would be better than someone with an ERA higher than four and has stitches in his finger.
And Aaron Sanchez will take to the mound for the Jays in Game Four against Mike Clevinger, who is starting because of injury to two other Cleveland pitchers. Sanchez did not look great in his last start but should still be favoured over a pitcher that only started 10 games during the regular season.
Home Sweet Home
A return home might give the Jays offence a much needed boost.
As a team, the Jays have hit .260/.341/.444 at the Rogers Centre this year, but only .236/.318/.408 on the road. The team who has suddenly seen their offensive production suddenly disappear will be happy to return to their notoriously hitter friendly ballpark.
None will be happier than Jose Bautista. He struck out five times in eight plate appearances in the last two games and has voiced his displeasure with the strike zone so far in the series. While still uncharacteristically high for him, Bautista has struck out less at home this year than on the road and will be looking to have some of his power return.
Well, If It Happened Last Year…
While it may not mean much, the Jays were in this position last year.
In the third game of the ALCS last year, the Jays returned home after only scoring two runs in Kansas City. The Jays scored 11 runs and Marcus Stroman picked up the win. Who’s to say a similar result isn’t in order this time around?
And this year, the Jays don’t have to rely on R.A. Dickey in Game Four. Dickey gave up five runs in that game last year, but this year the Jays will have Sanchez, their ace, to carry them into a Game Five. A Game Five that will feature Marco Estrada starting for the Jays…just like last year. If you ask me, things are lining up too perfectly.
While things aren’t great for the Jays, it’s not all doom and gloom. So don’t despair, Toronto, the boys of summer still have a shot this fall.
Featured image via CBC News