After falling behind 0-3 in the ALCS, the Blue Jays bats finally found some life to take Game 4 5-1 and give themselves a chance to do something only one MLB team has been able to do in 34 post-season series — come all the way back. But the circumstances are such the Jays have an opportunity to at least make this series a lot more interesting.
The reason is Cleveland’s lack of starting pitching depth. Rookie Ryan Merritt gets the call in Game 5, and a Game 6 if the series gets there is Josh Tomlin and his 4+ ERA. If the Jays bats are indeed coming alive, and can get to the starters, they have a good chance to win those games. A Game 7 would feature Corey Kluber again on three days rest — he certainly didn’t perform well on short rest in Game 4. It’ll also be the third time Blue Jays hitters will have seen him in eight days. All of the sudden a comeback doesn’t seem so improbable. But baseball is a funny game, and more often than not, things that should happen don’t and vice versa. Coming back from 0-3 is incredibly difficult. And if Cleveland can somehow get a late lead, you know Andrew Miller, who’s been lights out in the post-season, will be coming into the game akin to an Undertaker entrance into a WWE wrestling ring.
Game 4 was likely my last chance to see Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista in Blue Jays uniforms together in person. The legacy: one division championship, three playoff round wins and a whole lot of memorable, if not historic, home runs. Reports suggest the Jays are preparing a long-term offer to keep Encarnacion – we will see soon enough. No such rumours are swirling around Bautista. I wonder if Jose’s recent remarks regarding umpiring and today’s rookie Cleveland starter sealed the deal with management that he won’t be back next year. Honestly, I think you only need to look at the lineup to see why he won’t be back, and the decision was made some time ago. It’s pretty clear this team needs a younger, more balanced (meaning a switch or left-handed power bat) lineup.
If the Blue Jays bow out in the ALCS for a second straight year, it should be clear to everyone that improvements can be made and are necessary to take the final step. With the pitching they have locked up for the next two years, the Blue Jays do indeed still have a window to recapture glory.