On October 18, 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays had their backs against the wall. Down 0-3, it just didn’t feel like this was the team we had watched all season (minus April and September). Going into the ALCS, the Blue Jays felt such a high, but it slowly came crashing down when they lost their first game of October. And sadly, this lead to losing their second, and worst of all third game of October.
With the best pitcher in the American League – Aaron Sanchez – on the mound, there were some high expectations. And, I am very glad to report that those expectations were met.
Starting off the top of the first inning, Sanchez looked super sharp while striking out the first two batters he faced. When the very scary Lindor showed up to bat, Sanchez made him contact the first ball, and it turned into a one pitch/one out kind of thing. This was turning out to be a better start then ALDS Game 3.
The bottom of the first inning was not very exciting for our boys, as Bautista grounded out, Donaldson popped up, Edwin singled, but was stranded when Tulowitzki grounded out.
In the top of the first, Sanchez walked Napoli to start off the inning, and with a fielders choice, Napoli gets out at second but a runner stayed on first. During this inning, I started to realize that the strike zone was a little bit different today, then the past three games in this series. Sanchez seemed to be getting all of the borderline strikes among the bottom of the strike zone. Even though during some points, Kluber threw a very similar pitch but the pitch was called a ball.
The top of the third was a game changing inning for the Blue Jays, still remaining a 0-0 score. The inning started off with a leadoff double, off of the bat of Tyler Naquin. Perez hit a sacrifice bunt, and was out at first base. The infielders knew exactly what their goal was for this inning… with one out and no one on first base to make a double play, they needed to strand the runner on third and have the chance to score the first run. They decided to go with a very important move, called infield in. It focuses on every infielder coming just a few feet in, but enough to get the runner out at home, or even make them not run home at all! With a ground out straight to Ryan Goins, the runner stayed at third base. And ending the inning off with another ground out, the Indians were forced not to strike first, something we haven’t seen in the first three games of the series.
The bottom of the third was an amazing inning, too! The inning started off with two strikeouts, but then the MVP did what he hasn’t been able to do all postseason long. That’s right… Donaldson hits a solo homer and LEAD 1-0. This is the first time that the Indians have trailed, dating back to 56 innings ago in game one of the Cleveland vs. Boston ALDS. Edwin ends the inning with a super deep fly out, which I almost thought was another home run.
The bottom of the fourth was another exciting inning! Tulo walks into a leadoff walk (see what I did there) and so does Martin!! Two on, one out (Saunders strikes out after the two walks) for the current Blue Jays ALCS MVP Carrera, and with a bloop single to center field, Tulo comes in to score! 2-0 Blue Jays! The inning ends a few batters later.
When the inning ended, TBS showed a handmade sign saying, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?” And trust me when I say this, but there really is.
After a walk was issued to Coco Crisp, a wild pitch let him run into scoring position. Sadly, after a Napoli double, Crisp came in to score. With a runner on second and two out, Donaldson makes a GAME WINNING (although it was only the fourth… but still!!) catch to end the inning!
In the bottom of the 6th, Tulo hit a ball so hard that it was 2 feet away from a solo homer to leadoff the inning, but it bounced off of the wall. Since the ball was hit so hard, the only result of it was a leadoff single, but hey, that’s better than nothing! Martin then hits an infield single on a fielders choice, therefore Tulo is out at second base. Saunders then singles over both the pitcher and second baseman’s head, but sadly, the runners couldn’t be cashed in so the game remains 2-1.
In the top of the 7th, Gibbons took out Sanchez and replaced him with Cecil. Cecil looked very sharp and clean throughout the seventh. The first batter he faces flies out. Rajai Davis is put in to pinch hit for Chisenhall and he strikes him and the next batter out! Off to the bottom of the 7th inning still 2-1.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, Goins starts off with a leadoff single just in time for Jose Bautista! Bautista singles on a throwing error and Goins is safely at third base with no outs!! The reigning MVP steps up to bat, and they decide to intentionally walk him, therefore bringing Encarnacion up at bat with bases loaded and no outs! Donaldson shared in a postgame interview that he was quite surprised that he decided to do that. Cleveland got what they deserved and Edwin shot a double into left field, Goins and Bautista score but Donaldson gets out at third base. The next pitch thrown becomes a passed ball and Encarnacion is on third with one out. Terry Francona – Cleveland Indians manager – decided to take out Brandon Shaw and replaces him with Clevengir. Tulo and Martin strand Edwin on third with back to back ground balls. We head to the top of the 8th leading 4-1!
Grills comes in for Cecil and does exactly what he’s supposed to in the 8th!
Carrera leads off the inning with a triple! That is the first time a Blue Jays player has had back to back triples in a postseason game since Devon White during the 1993 World Series! And we all know what happened that year!! Kevin Pillar hits a sacrifice fly and Carrera scores, 5-1 Blue Jays. And now we head to the top of the ninth!
Osuna comes out to pitch in a non-save situation, but gets the job done with a 1-2-3 inning!!
The Blue Jays come out on top and win a must-win game 4!
Maybe things aren’t really falling apart. They may actually be falling into place.