Weekend Wrap: First Two Games Of The ALCS Edition

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A dig into the numbers, performances, or whatever was fun and notable about the weekend of Toronto Blue Jays baseball… unless I just rant on one basic topic, like I did today… brought to you by Draft Kings — get your Daily Fantasy Sports on at Draft Kings! 

It’s not a series until somebody loses at home. Those are words that are probably not going to do much to comfort Blue Jays fans right now, even if there is more than a grain of truth in them.

They certainly aren’t resonating in Cleveland — at least not on Twitter or in the social media department of the Jays’ opponents — which is understandable. We’d be having our fun, too, if the circumstances were different. But they’re not.

And that’s OK! Not… y’know… ideal. Not *not frustrating as hell*. But “outplaying” a team for a pair of games, if that’s the term we want to misapply to it, doesn’t mean in baseball that the next games are bound to follow the same pattern — not in the way that it would in sports that have more room for physical domination. We’re seeing a form of physical domination from Cleveland’s bullpen right now, and Andrew Miller in particular, but that leaves a whole lot of other outs for the Blue Jays to work with. It also doesn’t mean such domination will necessarily continue.

Especially in short series baseball there seems to be a tendency to want to believe in anything that starts to resemble what our brains perceive as a pattern. “The Jays’ bats have gone dormant again!” “They’re not adjusting!” Cleveland is “outplaying” them and so is a better team and will continue to outplay them!

Again, I’m not suggesting that things are good, but let’s not forget what we watched in Games One and Two in our rush act like we understand the mysteries that are playing out before us on the baseball field. The Blue Jays had Corey Kluber on the ropes a number of times in a tense Game One, managing to get an impressive number of runners on base against the former Cy Young winner, but failing to get those hits at the right time, when there were runners in scoring position. Some may try to paint them, then, as a club that lacks fortitude, but that certainly wasn’t the case over their six previous games in October. Sometimes baseball just happens that way — especially against a great pitcher.

Cleveland’s Game Two starter, Josh Tomlin, would hardly be characterized as that, but he’s better than a lot of Blue Jays fans wanted to give him credit for heading into Saturday. His numbers were dragged down by a fugly August, but he ended the season on his best streak of the year and pitched well in the ALDS against Boston. Still, he’s a guy the Blue Jays’ big lineup should have been able to get to, and they didn’t.

The thing is, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish were supposed to be nightmare matchups for the Jays’ bats, and they weren’t. It just happens sometimes. In some *COUGH* circumstances. Even in the biggest games of the season.

You can call that excuse-making, but what I’d call it is not trying to make two games a referendum on the season and the future — which, under the microscope of the playoffs, seems to be what a lot of people are ready to make it. Nobody sensible, of course, but it’s still out there. It’s out there in the desperate way that people insist that hitters need to suddenly be something they’re not — something they’ve never been successful being.

Is Cleveland exploiting Jays’ hitters tendency to want to pull the ball? I think a little, sure. And it’s been an effective strategy. But it’s not exactly being implemented wholesale either. In Bruce Arthur’s Toronto Star piece about Jose Bautista’s much-talked-about comments, the slugger refers to pitches that were supposed to be inside, but instead ended up out over the plate.

“I’ve had two or three in the first two games that have been pretty hittable pitches, and I’m missing. I fouled them off, or something,” Bautista conceded — not that anybody in Cleveland would have noticed as they rushed to call him a whiner and a sore loser. (Nor, I’m sure, did they notice that Mark Simon of ESPN.com shows that, if it is indeed the umpiring Jose is complaining about, he may have a point).

(Uhh, nor, would I wager, did they notice the quote John Lott tweeted earlier, in which Bautista — blaming himself for his own struggles — said that both teams “have to deal with the same circumstances”).

Anyway… here we are. We are here. Even just a single win in these next two games gives the Jays a chance on Wednesday to push the series back to Cleveland, and a win then gives them a game six. At that point they’re one win away from Game Seven, and then anything can happen!

See? It’s really not so bad.

What do you meme?

YASSSSSSSSSS.

Speaking of Cleveland’s racist mascot, there is an ongoing court proceeding that could be used to decide whether the club’s logo can be used in Toronto. CBC.ca has some background.

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