It finally happened. The Blue Jays had a lead for the first time this series. Josh Donaldson hit a breakball for a solo shot. Josh Donaldson was incredible last night. He was there offensively and defensively. The Blue Jays were able to score 5 runs, which is more than they have scored in their last 3 games combined. The Jays did a lot of their scoring with small ball. This approach worked out very well for them.
Cleveland never had a lead in the game. A lot of that had to do with Aaron Sanchez. The team has been protecting him throughout the year for moments like these. He pitched on 8 days rest and had a 2 hitter with 5 strikeouts. Corey Kluber was pitching on short rest. He had a good outing, but, in the postseason every run scored is just added pressure on your offense. He gave up 2 runs and played 5 innings.
Marco Estrada will be versing the Cleveland Indians rookie Ryan Merritt. Marco Estrada has had two postseason starts so far. Both were played on the road. This will be his first home postseason start this year and second of his Blue Jay career. In his last two starts, he’s 1-1, playing in 8.05 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1.5 runs and striking out 6. He’s been great so far. In his last 5 games at home, he’s went 0-4, playing 4.84 innings, giving up 3.2 runs and 1 homer. He had a tough stretch at home for a bit, but, he’s back on track in his last 3 starts. In his only home postseason start, he played in 7.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 run and striking out 5. He got the win as well. This occurred last year against Royals in the ALCS. He’s pitched in one game against Cleveland in the Rogers Centre and he threw 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs and striking out 7. The Jays won that game against the bullpen.
In Game 1, Marco Estrada gave up a 2 run shot to Fransisco Lindor. Experts mentioned that the homer was a result of bad pitch calling. He threw to changeups in a row. I’m confident Estrada will learn from that for today’s game.
For Cleveland, they have Ryan Merritt. Merritt is a rookie who’s only pitched in 1 game this season. Merritt and Matt Moore will be the only pitchers to start in a postseason game when only pitching in 1 start. There isn’t much on him because he hasn’t pitched much, but, he isn’t anything special. He’s an inexperienced, soft-tossing, lefty. He isn’t even a top 10 prospect for the Indians. What the Indians like about him is he throws strikes. His average fastball is 87 mph and tops out at 90. The changeup is his strongest pitch. It’s an above average pitch. His only career start came against the Royals. He threw 5 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 run and striking out four. At the time the Royals had nothing to play for and their lineup was that strong.
I can’t see how this goes well for Cleveland. Merritt is in a very tough position. He’s facing Estrada who has a great postseason track record, plus he’s going up against a power hitting lineup. If you are throwing 87 mph fastballs, expect a couple balls to go out of the ball park. Merritt will be on a short leash. If he gives up a couple runs, he will be pulled out for sure. The scary thing for the Blue Jays is if they somehow can’t hit Merritt, the Indians have Andrew Miller available for 4 innings and Cody Allen as well. The Blue Jays do not want to be down or have the game tied. If they don’t have a lead by the 5th inning, the Blue Jays will lose this game. Cleveland just wants Merritt to give them 4 to 5 solid innings. If he can do that, Cleveland will be going to the World Series.
After yesterday’s win, the Blue Jays got a little confidence back. I like them to carry that into today’s game. I can’t see how the Jays don’t score with Merritt on the mound.
Prediction: I like the Jays to win 5-3 at home