Photo by MLB
By Rich Mancuso
Aaron Sanchez, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays have some life. The sweep is not on and Wednesday afternoon game 5 of the ALCS presents a challenge for the Blue Jays as they try and prevent the Cleveland Indians from moving to the World Series on their home turf.
And the last team to overcome a 0-3 deficit in the ALCS? The 2004 Boston Red Sox who went on to overtake the New York Yankees and move on. The Blue Jays have a task in front of them but it is possible.
Terry Francona knows it is possible to overcome the deficit. Then, the manager of Boston, also a wild card team, is on the other side this time. The difference maker, as Francona and the baseball world knows, the Blue Jays are a dangerous team at home and the home run ball is a weapon.
But to make this series interesting, Bautista has to use the long ball. Encarnacion has to be the run producer and Toronto, with five runs scored Tuesday has the momentum having scored more runs in game four than they did in the previous three games.
So how do the Blue Jays once again stave off elimination, and can they accomplish what the Red Sox overcame against the Yankees?
Score runs and early against Cleveland rookie righthander Ryan Merritt, who spent a majority of the season pitching in Triple-A and makes his postseason debut.
The encouraging sign for Toronto? Encarnacion got a two-run single Tuesday night. The swing resembled his American League 2016 RBI production and Merritt may be intimidated by throwing a fastball in the zone.
Encouraging for Toronto? Marco Estrada is on the mound who took the loss in Game 1 of the series. His approach is pitching nine innings and not look at this as an elimination game. But the Blue Jays need to score often and early and tax that much and used Indians bullpen that showed signs of wear and tear.
CUBS LOSE THE EDGE: Home field advantage suddenly has shifted to the Dodgers on their turf in Los Angeles against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS as Game four approaches with a 2-1 series lead.
And suddenly, these mighty Cubs have stopped hitting. The advantage for Chicago Wednesday night is getting to 20-year rookie Julio Urias. The lefthander is making history as the youngest pitcher to make a postseason start.
So the Dodgers and Cubs Wednesday night will be showcasing two of the youngest stars in the game, with Javier Baez the 23-year old infielder from Bayamon Puerto Rico.
Baez approach: Be more patient against Urias. He had two hits and four RBI in four-at-bats against the rookie. But the Cubs have hit a low at the plate, overall, and their 2-3-4 hitters are a combined 2-for-32 in the series without driving in a run.
John Lackey gets the start for the Cubs: Also aware that the righthander leads all Major Leaguers in postseason starts and four of the Cubs’ eight shutouts this season came against the Dodgers.
Adrian Gonzalez: The Dodgers threat with the long ball is 7-for-20 against Lackey in his career with no home runs and four RBI. For the Dodgers momentum to continue, obvious that Urias needs to pitch deep and get ahead of a lineup that is struggling.