The Blue Jays picked the absolute wrong time to get shut out for the first time in postseason play. Ever. And thanks to a kid who’d only thrown eleven major league innings ever until Wednesday afternoon, aided and abetted by that skin-tight bullpen, the Indians are going to the World Series after hammering down the Jays, 3-0.
If the Blue Jays have any prayer of coming back to win an American League Championship Series in which they opened two games in the hole, they have but one recourse. They’re going to have to arrange Andrew Miller’s kidnapping.
“[B]aseball is so rooted in traditions,” tweeted Dodger pitcher Brandon McCarthy, after the Indians beat the Jays a second straight time Saturday afternoon, “that hitters still take their bats to the plate against Andrew Miller even though they’re not needed.”
In 1946 it was Enos Slaughter’s mad dash home in the eighth inning while Johnny Pesky held the ball. (Actually, he didn’t, but Pesky had no chance to throw home in time after taking a high throw in from center field.) And it meant a World Series triumph for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Almost seventy years later, it was Lorenzo Cain’s mad dash home while Jose Bautista threw to second. Also in the eighth inning. But it meant a trip to the World Series for the Kansas City Royals Friday night.
You thought Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets bullpen knew how to handle the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League division series? You should have seen Edinson Volquez and the Kansas City Royals handling the Toronto Blue Jays in Game One of the American League Championship Series.
And if you thought often-enough criticised Mets manager Terry Collins figured out a few ways to work on the fly against a very deficient Don Mattingly, you had to watch often-enough criticised Royals manager Ned Yost defy a few expectations himself.
J.J. Hardy’s two-out, down-to-the-Orioles-last-strike hopper caught Mike Moustakas right where Moustakas wanted it on the third base line. Moustakas’s high throw across the infield caught first baseman Eric Hosmer right where he wanted it. OK, a little bit high, but nothing to it. We do this kinda stuff to ‘em all throughout the picture.
Just like the only two runs the Royals would need to put on the board all day long scored on a pair of grounders and a sacrifice. Big deal. We do this kinda stuff to ‘em all throughout the picture.
Have you noticed the same two things I’m noticing about the Kansas City Royals? Thing one: They seem to have positioned themselves as giant killers. (And who knows that they won’t get a chance to be Giant killers, too?) Thing two: Contrary to swelling popular opinion, they don’t always need extra innings to make a postseason statement.
It might have shocked enough people that they dispatched the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4, in Game Two of the American League Championship Series in nine regulation innings. It probably has shocked enough people that they’re halfway toward a second consecutive sweep of a regular season powerhouse.
It’s the kind of play Derek Jeter has been making since he came into the Show in the first place. The kind of play he has made often enough that you would not be surprised to learn he could have been blind and still made it.
Nothing more dangerous than a middling little ground ball up the pipe in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta, and nothing more strenous for the Yankee captain than ranging to his left, reaching for it, and, if he was going to tumble, as he must have known he would, shoveling the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for a relay to first to get rid of Peralta.
Jim Leyland was emphatic enough. Seeing Justin Verlander on the mound again this postseason was going to be the best thing, he said, because it would come in the World Series. As for the rest of the American League Championship Series, Verlander wouldn’t even be a topic.
Not in the Detroit Tigers’ manager’s mind, anyway. And it proved a moot point after the game, gutsy, but gimpy Tigers took one of the worst elimination beatings in postseason history in Arlington Saturday night.