Cleveland refuses to lose, putting Toronto on the brink.
There’s not really a test case that can be done for “postseason magic” and for good reason: postseason magic doesn’t exist. Or, at least, it probably doesn’t exist. It 99.99 percent does not exist. There’s some strange world that it does exist in, according to Infinite Universe Theory, but that world is almost certainly not ours. And even if it were ours, even if that were at all possible, how would we prove it one way or the other? What, in the absence of empirical evidence, could we use to posit the existence or, better, non-existence of postseason magic?
After the Indians took the first two games of the series in Cleveland, the Blue Jays turn to Opening Day starter Marcus Stroman to avoid falling behind 3-0. The Indians, meanwhile, will start Trevor Bauer as they look to continue their loss-free postseason.
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Cleveland used a familiar blueprint to take a 2-0 series lead over Toronto.
In 1993, Mark Wahlberg released The Marky Mark Workout: Form ... Focus ... Fitness on VHS. The tape, which has a runtime of 70 minutes and can be purchased for $12 on Amazon, features a bare-chested, semi-popular rapper executing French curls, tricep pushdowns, and stiff-legged deadlifts in track pants and a backward ballcap. Around the 10-minute mark, a "Triple-Threat Superset" is preceded by some tasteful black-and-white footage, during which Marky Mark gazes into the camera and murmurs: “Finally got to the fun part, as you can see I’m hanging by the pool with some fly honeys.”
Francisco Lindor provided all the run support Corey Kluber and the Indians' shutdown bullpen needed in Game 1.
After scoring 22 and 15 runs, respectively, in their three-game Division Series sweeps, the Indians and Blue Jays plated only two runs in the opening game of their Championship Series, both by Cleveland. The first ALCS game in Cleveland since 2007 was the shortest postseason game in the American League so far this year, lasting just 2:44, which means that the entire game could’ve fit comfortably within any six innings of Thursday night’s Dodgers-Nationals 4:32 slog.
Breaking down the strengths, weaknesses, injuries, and managers for the seven-game American League slugfest.
The Red Sox were the best team in the American League during the regular season and the Rangers had the best record. If the idea was to have a series that best encapsulated the 2016 season on the junior circuit, though, this is about the best we could have hoped for. Both the Blue Jays and the Indians bear the marks of a long season, and both have holes that would be notable and somewhat glaring even if they’d had perfect health. The two best teams left in the postseason, by a wide margin, are playing for the National League pennant. This has been an odd, sloppy slugfest of a season in the AL, and these are the perfect clubs to finish it off.
Cleveland swept Boston out of the playoffs in David Ortiz's final game.
It's not hard to see that the postseason magnifies every little thing, including your mistakes. Sure, it glorifies your successes, but for every pitch that kinda sorta seems down the middle, you'll get a thousand exasperated sighs in response, and unless you're an all-time great, people will remember your mistakes, your missteps, and your blunders. To this end, baseball is not a fair game.
J.A. Happ vs. Yu Darvish in Texas and David Price vs. Corey Kluber in Cleveland.
Texas looks to bounce back from a Game 1 shellacking with their second ace, right-hander Yu Darvish, on the mound. Toronto looks to bring a commanding 2-0 lead back home and try to finish the series Sunday.
Terry Francona went to his big bullpen guns early and the Indians took a 1-0 lead over the Red Sox.
It's easy to make too much of a single move in a postseason game. Taking a pitcher out one batter too late or sending a runner home on a long fly can have huge consequences. But if we step back and breathe deeply, we know a baseball game is too long, with too many moving parts, to ever truly be decided by any single event. Still, Thursday evening’s Red Sox-Indians game, the first of a five-game set, offered an easily graspable handle for those looking to turn that narrative crank.
If you believe the earnest quotes of every Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays player or coach, there won’t be a basebrawl during this series because everyone very much wants to play baseball and win baseball games. We’ll see how long that decision actually stands, though.
Minnesota hopes shaking up the front office with a new-school hire works as well as it did three decades ago.
Two months after firing longtime general manager Terry Ryan the Twins have decided on his replacement, hiring Indians assistant general manager Derek Falvey as their new front office boss. Going from the 62-year-old, old school, highly experienced Ryan to the 33-year-old, new school, inexperienced Falvey represents a massive shift for the Twins, but one that was clearly necessary following the worst season in team history and a fifth season with 90-plus losses in the past six years. It’s an organization begging for change.
Minnesota’s unsuccessful attempts to interview ex-general managers Alex Anthopoulos and Ben Cherington made headlines and Falvey was rarely portrayed as the front-runner throughout a process aided by the Korn Ferry search firm. In the end he beat out, among others, Rays vice president of baseball operations (and former Baseball Prospectus staffer) Chaim Bloom, Cubs vice president of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod, and Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo.