We are knee-deep in the postseason now, and today’s games couldn’t be any further from opposite. One game was a sheer runaway, the other was scary close. Well, at least no one in the AL Division Series is going to make things boring or repetitive.
Game 1: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers
The first game was the runaway, when the Blue Jays kind of just ran all over the Rangers in front of their home crowd. Mainly, thanks to the Jays’ starter Estrada who threw into the 9th inning, with just 98 pitches, giving up just 4 hits and a single run. In comparison, the Rangers’ pitchers certainly got quite roughed up by the Blue Jays’ batters.
In the 3rd, a 1-out walk moved to 2nd on a 2-out wild pitch before scoring on Donaldson’s double. (Donaldson, by the way, is the reigning AL MVP and is certainly showing off why he was voted such last season in this postseason power.) A single and a walk loaded the bases so that Tulowitzki’s triple cleared the bases. Upton’s lead-off solo home run in the 4th kept the ball rolling for the Blue Jays. Travis reached safely on a sloppy throwing error, moved to 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on (who else?) Donaldson’s single.
That was enough to force the Rangers to pull their starter Hamels right there in the middle of the 4th inning. The rest of the Rangers’ pitching staff did a better job of fending off the Blue Jays’ offense until the 9th inning when Donaldson (again) led things off with a single. The next batter also singled to get a coupe of runners on base for the Blue Jays. A solid 3-run home run by Bautista capped off Toronto’s scoring.
The Rangers got a small shot in the bottom of the 9th, trailing by a huge margin. Andrus led-off with a triple before scoring on a routine ground out to at least break the shut out of the game. It was also the final batter Toronto’s starter faced, leaving his sole reliever to get a quick 2 outs to hand the Blue Jays the win.
Final score: 10-1 Blue Jays, Blue Jays lead series 1-0.
Game 2: Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians
And in the second game, the Red Sox and Indians proved they were a bit more evenly matched. At least for tonight’s game, sharing fairly even statistics — 10 total hits and a lone walk each, 12/14 total strikeouts by each team’s pitchers, and starters who didn’t make it out of their respective 5th innings.
Cleveland fans haven’t been this excited at a game since LeBron came back to “Plum City” (obscure nickname alert!), and the Indians at least made it worth their time. Tonight’s game was close from the beginning, with neither team really breaking out and neither team willing to give up until the very end, which though disappointing for Boston, allows Boston fans to keep hoping themselves.
Boston struck first by leading off the game with Pedroia’s double. He moved to 3rd on Holt’s single, and then scored on a 2-out double. In the same play, Holt was thrown out trying to score at home. Well, he was originally called safe, but after Cleveland challenged the call, it was overturned and the inning was over.
To start keeping the game close, in the bottom of the 2nd, the Indians tied up the game. Ramirez led-off with a double and then scored on Chisenhall’s single. Actually, Chisenhall tried to stretch it into a double himself, but was tagged at 2nd; originally called safe, a challenge from Boston revealed he slid off the base and thus was actually out. Benintendi led-off the 3rd with a solo home run to give the lead back to the Red Sox.
But the Indians came back in the bottom of the 3rd to tie things up with their own lead-off solo home run by Perez. Then 1-out later, Kipnis and Lindor hit back-to-back solo home runs to give the Indians the lead they wouldn’t surrender this game. The Red Sox edged closer in the 5th with Leon’s lead-off home run to put them within 1-run.
The Indians got their insurance run back in the bottom of that inning. Perez led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a fly out, and then scored on Kipnis’ single. But with the bases loaded a few batters later, the Red Sox bullpen kicked into gear and shut the Indians down. Honestly, the Indians’ relievers pretty much did the same thing to the Red Sox’s offense at the same time. The Red Sox, however, got one more run in the 8th with Holt’s lead-off solo home run to keep things just as tight.
Final score: 5-4 Indians, Indians lead series 1-0.
Tomorrow is a very busy day for the postseason — Game 2 for the ALDS, and Game 1 for the NLDS. Yes, that’s 4 games tomorrow.
And our thoughts and prayers going out to all in the path of Hurricane Matthew, places like Jamaica, Haiti, and the islands all over the eastern Caribbean already hit hard by the storm; and places like the east coast of Florida and the Atlantic Coast of the southeastern U.S. about to bear the brunt of the storm. Stay safe.