Here we are at Game of the ALCS after the Blue Jays forced a fifth game yesterday. The pitching was terrific from Aaron Sanchez and the Jays cruised 5-1 to a win. In all actuality, the pitching has been superb for the Blue Jays all postseason long. If we predicted them to get this kind of production from their pitching before this series started, the belief would have been that the Jays would run away with the series. The fact of that matter is that hasn’t happened, though. The offense has been dead and the pitching has been attempting to keep the team afloat.
The Blue Jays got on the board with 5 runs yesterday, more than enough to overcome the 1 run scored by the Indians. Edwin Encarnacion led the Blue Jays with 2 RBIs and Josh Donaldson connected on a deep shot to help the Jays out. Like I said in my last article, the Blue Jays are fully capable of winning four straight games. Their offense is streaky as they come, and if the Jays’ bats get hot over the next three games it’s an entirely realistic possibility that Toronto erases the three-game deficit. They can do it but will they do it? The odds are of course still stacked against them, but it’s been done before.
Another win today would put a ton of discomfort and doubt into the minds of the Indians. If the Blue Jays win today, they’ll need to win two in a row in Cleveland. The Indians will look to end it today, though, and rip up the flight tickets to Cleveland for the Blue Jays. A youngster for the Indians steps into the biggest game of his career today at the Rogers Centre.
Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan Merritt (1-0, 1.64 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (10-10, 3.32 ERA)
While this looks like an unfavorable scenario for the Indians today, with Ryan Merritt getting the call on Wednesday, the Indians have already overcome adversity. Having a 3-1 lead in this series, given what has happened to injuries in their rotation, it has been an improbable run. So, why not have a rookie go out there on the mound and win a game now? If the Indians win, that’s going to become a reality. Merritt has appeared in only four games in his career, all this season, with only one start to his credit. He has just 10.3 innings under his belt in his career, allowing 2 runs in those frames. His last outing was on September 30th, a start against the Royals which was the first of his career.
He played well against the Royals, surrendering just 3 hits and 1 run across 5 innings. If the Indians can get 5 solid innings out of Merritt, then it would spell a good recipe for them. The Tribe’s excellent bull pen could take it the rest of the way, who have been very good against this Toronto lineup in the ALCS. For the Blue Jays, Marco Estrada has been pitching brilliantly, including a 1.69 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in his last three starts. Estrada has given up an average of just 1 run per start in his last five starts. I expect the Blue Jays to show the rookie a thing or two today. The offense should come out to play, bringing this series back to Cleveland for another game or two if necessary.
PICK: BLUE JAYS -1.5 (+120)