By Rich Mancuso
Throw out the Jose Bautista conspiracy theory that there was a conspiracy as to why the Toronto Blue Jays failed to overtake the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Bautista and the potent bats of the Blue Jays went silent in five games and he said the Indians pitching threw the ball over the heart of the plate.
Yes, over the pate and getting the calls. The Indians got the hits and Blue Jays did not, Bautista has this to blame for their failure being held to .201 batting average and eight runs,
And the Blue Jays could not keep Francisco Lindor off the bases 7-for-20 in five games and driving in five runs. Perhaps not as startling as the heroics of Carlos Beltran and his October to remember with Houston, or what Daniel Murphy accomplished last October with the New York Mets, but significant and enough to propel the underdog Indians to their first World Series since 1997.
Reminiscent and similarities of October baseball, to the tune of momentum and a path the Mets took last October and the Kansas City Royals last year and the one before.
It can drive a team crazy this time of year, however this is the bizarre aspect of October baseball. The Royals and Mets know about 11-game winning streaks during the season and dealing with adversity of injuries to a pitching staff, all significant to the winning formula.
But a conspiracy theory? Leave that to the two combatants fighting in a hotly contested November Presidential election. Good pitching, hitting with consistency and defensive gems will win games in October, so throw out the Bautista conspiracy theory.
Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar, along with Trevor Bauer go down with injuries. A core of the Indians pitching staff, a strength for manager Terry Francona, deals with adversity. Lindor gets on base and Carlos Santana hits the home run ball.
Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Andrew Miller are the “Three-Headed” Monster out of the Indians’ bullpen, and a similar weapon the Royals used with their success to a World Series championship last October.
But every team needs a spark in the lineup. Lindor, the 22-year old shortstop from Caguas, Puerto Rico had a dream two years ago. He said, and it was in April, “The Indians will win the World Series this year.” That started with his two-run homer in Game 1, and the momentum continued for the Indians.
Cleveland would have a 10-11 start, respectable, but they were always the underdog in a division with the defending champion Royals. They have Lindor, the young star now on a big stage and sharing the spotlight right with Javier Baez, the other exciting youngster of the Chicago Cubs making sparkling plays in the infield.
Lindor has now surpassed Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros as the rising and young shortstop, for the moment, another reason why playing deep into October has those moments. He is resembling a veteran of postseason and October baseball.
“I believe in my team,” Lindor said after his home run in Game 1. “I Believe in what we have.” These Indians and Lindor have surpassed the expectations and it will be quite a show if Baez and the Cubs advance in the NLCS, leaving a thought?
October baseball and for all the marbles. Lindor on the field and Baez, both taking their turns. Who would have thought of that in April?