Indians 1, Blue Jays 5
Indians lead ALCS, 3-1
You didn’t think the Cleveland Indians were going to go undefeated in the playoffs, did you? If you work for TBS you probably still haven’t admitted that the Indians managed to beat the Boston Red Sox. Well here we are, eight games later, and the Indians have finally lost one.
The loss came at a time that was only really bad for holding off a potential celebration. The Toronto Blue Jays still need to win three games in a row — things are still very much in the Tribe’s favor, no matter how many terrible, awful takes you can find on Twitter.
Offensively, the Indians were absolutely shut down by starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez and the Jays bullpen. An early turning point came in the third inning after Tyler Naquin doubled for the team’s first hit of the game. Instead of, you know, hitting, the Indians opted to bunt with Roberto Perez. Which led to a runner on third with one out. Great! Excellent. Awesome. Sure, that’s not a run, but at least you wasted an out to move a runner over without a guarantee to score in the third inning. At best you use two outs to score a single run and at worst. Well...
Almost as some kind of cosmic karma, Carlos Santana grounded out to second and Jason Kipnis followed suit, meaning the bunt was utterly useless. Perez would later double off of Sanchez in the fifth inning, scoring the Indians’ only run of the game. If only he had the opportunity to do that early in the game.
Although Josh Donaldson belted a solo home run in the third inning, things did not look really bad for Corey Kluber until the fourth. After issuing two straight walks to start the inning, Kluber struck out Michael Saunders. Time to lock it down. Here it comes, a routine pop-up — oh my god no why.
For those interested... It looks like Naquin took a terrible route and the LF (Crisp) was confused. Probably should have been caught pic.twitter.com/VHhX0aKIw0— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 18, 2016
I am sure there is a video highlight of this hit out there, but I really don’t want to watch it again. Daren Willman’s graphic gives you all the gory details. Naquin took an awful route, Coco Crisp looked confused, and Francisco Lindor wondered why his outfielders were not doing their jobs.
The game would have gotten much more out of hand in the sixth inning were it not for Lonnie Chisenhall and his Chisencanon intimidating Blue Jays baserunners. First, Troy Tulowitzki was forced to take a single off a ball that was just a few inches shy of being a home run. Chisenhall collected the ball off the bounce perfectly and shot a rocket to second to hold Tulo at first. Later in the same inning, Chisenhall made a great leaping catch with an equally great route, and he threw a laser to third base to keep Russell Martin from tagging up and advancing.
It was not a great game. But the good news is, this is hardly a watershed moment for the Blue Jays or any team searching for the Indians’ biggest weakness. Toronto did not exploit anything new; they did not create a Bible on how to finally stop the Chisentober-led Indians. The Indians offense just could not get a lead early enough for the bullpen to lock everything down. Maybe that in itself is an exploitable weakness. I guess if the Blue Jays really want to take credit for figuring out that the Indians can’t win unless they score runs then more power to them.
Things will not get easier for the Tribe from here on out, though. Ryan Merritt will make just the second start of his career tomorrow, followed by Josh Tomlin and then Corey Kluber on short rest again as needed. All with a bullpen that, no matter how good it has been this postseason, has to be getting a bit taxed at this point.
The Blue Jays’ backs are against the wall, but they have a hand on it ready to push off. Time to... low kick their shins — ok I lost myself on this analogy. Just beat the god damn Blue Jays.