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☆ 2016 ALCS ☆ Toronto Blue Jays vs CLEVELAND INDIANS ☆

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TORONTO -- The thing about today's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series is that everybody will be on short rest, with a 4 p.m. ET matinee following a night game. But the only guy whose short rest truly matters is Corey Kluber. He's either about to nail down the Indians' first AL pennant in 19 years, or he's going to give the Blue Jays' sagging bats a boost that will allow them to turn their 3-0 series deficit into something resembling hope.

 

Kluber has never done this -- and that's not a reference to him attempting to advance a team to a World Series (though he's never done that, either). Not one of his 136 Major League starts has come on anything less than four days' rest. So the Indians are definitely taking a risk here, but with Trevor Bauer's bloody right pinkie having prompted a 'pen day in Game 3, they really don't have much of a choice.

 

"If we don't bring him back tomorrow and he pitches Game 5," Tribe manager Terry Francona explained, "we don't have a starter for Game 7. I mean, we have to physically have a starter. So this is the best way to do it. I mean, this is the only way to do it. There's no other way around it."

 

The Indians' issues in their rotation are obviously unusual for a team on the precipice of the Promised Land. But given the "circumstances" -- a word that has taken on quite a bit of postseason prominence after Jose Bautista's mid-series comments about the issues the Blue Jays have faced -- you'd take Cleveland's problems over those plaguing Toronto.

 

The Blue Jays just aren't hitting. They didn't hit off Kluber in Game 1, they didn't hit off Josh Tomlin in Game 2, and, amazingly, they didn't hit off the conga line of relievers Francona had to bring to the mound after Bauer bowed out just two outs into Game 3.

 

Toronto is hitting just .177 with a .483 OPS through 96 at-bats. Michael Saunders' solo shot off Dan Otero in Game 3 stands as the only home run for a home run-reliant ballclub that generated 46 percent of its offense via the long ball this season.

 

That's not good, and it's a trend that has to change rapidly and markedly if the Blue Jays are going to become just the second team in 36 tries to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven postseason series.

 

(To date, the only outlier is Francona's 2004 Red Sox club, against the Yankees in the ALCS).

"We don't have any choice," Russell Martin said. "We either win or go home, and I don't want to go home. I don't think anyone in this clubhouse wants to go home."

 

No, the Blue Jays want to find home, that place they've only crossed three times in three games. Any complaints about the strike zone ring hollow, because there were multiple moments Monday night in which the zone appeared to shrink in their favor, but Toronto's bats were once again kept quiet. Manager John Gibbons already tried adjusting his lineup for Game 3, moving Bautista back up to the leadoff spot, so he's not anticipating any major moves there.

 

What Gibbons is anticipating is a strong start from young Aaron Sanchez, who is 2 1/3 innings from reaching the vaunted 200 mark in 2016. Sanchez arguably looked a little gassed in his AL Division Series start against the Rangers (six runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings), but in stark contrast to Kluber's situation, he'll be operating on nine days' rest.

 

"He's turned himself into one of the better [pitchers] in baseball," Gibbons said of Sanchez. "And he's been solid all year. And we've been getting great pitching the whole series. We can't complain about that one bit. And really expect him to just to do the same. He's that good."

 

Are the Blue Jays good enough to make history? Or will Kluber contain them once again? It is clear that jumping out to an early lead on the Indians is imperative, because their Andrew Miller-aided bullpen has been absolutely lights out on this stage. And though that 'pen was extended Monday night, Francona said he is not anticipating any of his arms -- notably the long left-handed one attached to Miller -- being unavailable.

 

"[Kluber] is our ace; he's our horse," Miller said. "I think we like our chances with him. But everybody will find a way to be ready."

 

The Indians feel ready to pop champagne on enemy turf, while the Blue Jays are hoping for a rally that defies history. Game 4 at Rogers Centre beckons. Rest up.

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10/18 8:05 PM - NLCS GAME 3 - Too early for a look ahead? (Vegasinsider.com)

 

953 Chi. Cubs open -115 now consensus -105

954 L.A. Dodgers open -115 now consensus +105 A nearly even game.

 

Total runs 6½ A National League type low total, the AL is more exciting.

 

Pitchers: (CHC) Jake Arrieta ® (LAD) Rich Hill (L)

TV: FS-1, DTV: 219 | CLEAR, WIND OUT TO LEFT 5-10. GAME TEMP 76, RH 33% HEAT INDEX 75

 

 

10/18 4:05 PM - The ALCS GAME 4 - SERIES CLINCHING GAME FOR CLEVELAND

 

955 Cleveland open +112 now concensus +110

956 Toronto open -122 now consensus -120 Toronto a very slight favorite

 

Total runs 7½ with Kluber pitching

 

Pitchers: (CLE) Corey Kluber ® (TOR) Aar³n Sanchez ®

Overnight Pitching Change: Cleveland - C. Kluber for M. Clevinger | TV: TBS, DTV: 247 | MOSTLY CLOUDY, 40% CHANCE THUNDERSTORMS. WIND OUT TO RIGHT 20-30, GUSTY. GAME TEMP 79, RH 55% HEAT INDEX 81 (ROGERS CENTRE ROOF CLOSES IN WET WEATHER)

 

NOTES:

Open Line: Consists of the first betting line received from one of our Las Vegas or Online sportsbooks.

VI Consensus: Consists of the current betting line which occurs most frequently among our list of Las Vegas and Online sportsbooks.

All Game Times are Eastern Standard Time.

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The Indians still have the upper hand, but they've also got the unproven one. Still hoping to close out the American League pennant on Canadian soil, they are about to send a rookie with all of 11 Major League innings under his belt to the mound in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

 

Is Ryan Merritt's unexpected emergence as a pivotal figure the opening which the Blue Jays sneak through and turn this best-of-seven set into a legitimate series? We'll find out today at 4 p.m. ET.

 

"I'll just relax and treat it as any other game," said Merritt, whose only Major League start came in a Sept. 30 win in Kansas City. "I know I can get outs, so I'm just going to pitch to my strengths."

 

And the Blue Jays hope to play to theirs.

 

Game 4 was the Jays' reminder to the world that they are still capable of stringing runs together. Josh Donaldson went deep, which was good for the soul. They finally got one of the Indians' three key bullpen arms (Bryan Shaw) to crack in a two-run seventh, which was good for the psyche. If Toronto can jump out to an early lead off the kid and ride another strong start from Marco Estrada, it can potentially avoid the Andrew Miller effect and send this thing back to Cleveland for a Game 6.

"It's an uphill battle," Donaldson said. "We're still down three games to one. It's a must-win each and every game. But the fact of the matter is we've got to go out there and continue to control what we can control."

 

Estrada has done a terrific job controlling his emotions in past playoff appearances. In the past two postseasons, he has compiled a 2.02 ERA in 35 2/3 innings, and he secured a legacy in Toronto with his 7 2/3 innings of brilliance in last year's Game 5 of the ALCS vs. the Royals.

 

"In terms of thinking this could be our last game or it's a playoff game or you've got to be perfect, that's not the case," Estrada said. "I haven't thought about it that way. I'm pretty relaxed when I'm out there."

 

The Indians, who were the only team in the Majors to not lose four straight games this season, still seemed pretty relaxed after their club-record six-game postseason winning streak came to a halt in the potential clincher Tuesday. Any thought of popping bubbly in the vistors' clubhouse was kept on ice at the hands of Aaron Sanchez, and Toronto's bats went from rumor to reality in the Blue Jays' 5-1 victory.

 

Now we can turn our attention to an Indians team that has hit .164 with a .526 OPS so far this series and done absolutely nothing at the plate in the late innings. All the more reason it is imperative that Merritt be on point early if the Tribe is going to close it out here.

 

Merritt, just 24 years old, is obviously an interesting option for Game 5, but Cleveland didn't have a lot of options, given the complexity of the team's injury situation. Merritt hasn't pitched in a game since that strong start against the Royals, but the Indians had him pitch in the fall instructional league in Arizona to stay stretched out. They're hoping to catch the Jays off guard with a guy on whom the ol' "book" is not yet out.

 

"What do I know about him?" Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's left-handed. That's all I know right now."

 

For Cleveland, the only bright side to Toronto extending its edge against Shaw on Tuesday is that it gave Terry Francona reason to allow Miller and closer Cody Allen some rare rest, which means they'll be good to go in Game 5.

 

"I think that helps," Francona said. "We do have those guys available with a day off behind it."

The Indians want to spend that day basking in the glow of a World Series ticket, plain and simple. The Blue Jays want to put the pressure on, reassert themselves on this stage and send it back to Cleveland, where, perhaps, those old, uncomfortable thoughts of postseasons past might creep into the hearts and minds of the Northeast Ohio populace.

 

"We're still alive, no doubt," Gibbons said. "Even through the struggles of the last few games where they outplayed us and shut us down, I mean, it was the same guys, just weren't getting the results.

 

... We've got another game. So we'll see what the heck happens."

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10/19 8:05 PM - NLCS GAME 4 - Just checking.

 

901 Chi. Cubs open -120 now consensus -110 The CUBS are a very slight favorite.

902 L.A. Dodgers open +120 now consensus +100

 

Total runs 7½ OVER /UNDER

 

Pitchers: (CHC) John Lackey ® (LAD) Julio Urias (L)

TV: FS-1, DTV: 219

 

 

10/19 4:05 PM - ALCS GAME 5 - Why does it feel like Cleveland is the must win? It's not true.

 

903 Cleveland open +145 now consensus +160 - The Indians are the modest underdog here.

904 Toronto -160 now consensus -180

 

Total runs 8 OVER /UNDER

 

Pitchers: (CLE) Ryan Merritt (L) (TOR) Marco Estrada ®

TV: TBS, DTV: 247

 

NOTES:

Open Line: Consists of the first betting line received from one of our Las Vegas or Online sportsbooks.

VI Consensus: Consists of the current betting line which occurs most frequently among our list of Las Vegas and Online sportsbooks.

All Game Times are Eastern Standard Time.

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My buddy was on the pitching staff at McClennan JC with Merritt. He is one of the biggest Indians fans today.

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After yesterday my previously unbeaten, post-season, blue Indians T went in the wash with the contrasting red shorts.

 

Back to the lucky, grey T with the navy blues...

 

Go Tribe...

 

Go Merritt... Give us 7, then one each from Allen and Miller...

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After yesterday my previously unbeaten, post-season, blue Indians T went in the wash with the contrasting red shorts.

 

Back to the lucky, grey T with the navy blues...

 

Go Tribe...

 

Go Merritt... Give us 7, then one each from Allen and Miller...

You may want to order that Merritt jersey now before the rush..Great move by Fran. hell i don't even know what Merritt throwing..BUT STRIKES!!! SanTanna BOOOOMM---2-0

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Meanwhile CLE 3-0 bottom 4 with Merritt just giving up hit 1, not bad.

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6-4-3 DP WHOA BABY, now top 5. ;)

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The crowd was so happy for the 1st hit to come and then they got doubled up. Watched 0 games this year and I've seen all the playoff games. Did the same with the Cavs so hopefully we get the same result.

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Can we actually hope for 6 full then the Cleveland Nasty Boys? Unreal.

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Have you noticed that the Toronto fans are cheering long fly outs?

 

Just wait now.

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Oh yeah another DP to start Miller time...... :D

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Six outs from the WORLD SERIES. OMG.

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Why'd Merrit get taken out?

Think Fran wanted kid to only be able to get W only. But i thought he should have stayed facing lefty on lefty. but not a Saunder's was the tought of Fran, imo

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WE WILL SEE YOU IN THE WORLD SERIES CLEVELAND!!!!!!!!!YES :) YES :D YES :lol: OH HAPPY DAY!!!!!!!!

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Why no Miller :/

they were loaded up with right handed bats & Allen gave them a seat.........Good Night & Good MORNING in london :lol:

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You may want to order that Merritt jersey now before the rush..Great move by Fran. hell i don't even know what Merritt throwing..BUT STRIKES!!! SanTanna BOOOOMM---2-0

 

Love our young arms in the playoffs... Merritt and Clevinger.

 

Roberto Perez was our MVP. Called great games.

 

One series to go...

  • Upvote 1

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This is an incredible accomplishment by the CLEVELAND INDIANS in 2016.

 

I can't believe it and can't wait for next week CLEVELAND vs ___________ in the World Series, it just hasn't sunk in yet.

 

And ALCS MVP MILLER TIME, good luck NL. ;)

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