The stark divide and difference between the two championship series could not be more apparent than how today’s games played out. The NL seems bent of theatrics, while the AL is content to push through like a regular season game, even at a regular season’s pace.
Game 1: Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians
So, if the Indians end up in the World Series, I think we can place the blame solely on reliever Andrew Miller. Miller has been the most reliable thing about the Indians’ roster this entire postseason, and as a Yankee fan, where my loyalties are split all over the place with former Yankees playing on nearly every team this postseason, it’s nice to see a former Yankee do so very well. Well enough to become a trending topic on social media for hours after the game, actually.
Toronto’s starter Happ actually threw a pretty good game as far as standard statistics go, and it’s rather common knowledge that the Blue Jays’ bullpen is pretty much unstoppable. But the Indians’ pitchers just dominated today, once again. Tomlin started the game, going into the 6th inning, and keeping the Blue Jays to just 3 hits and a single run.
Actually, the game was very much decided early. In the bottom of the 2nd, Sanatana led off the inning with a big solo home run to get the Indians on the board first. The Blue Jays didn’t wait long to tie things up in the top of the next inning — a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on Donaldson’s double. But the Indians didn’t let that sit either. With Davis at 1st with 1 out, he stole 2nd base and then ended up at 3rd on a wild pitch before scoring on Lindor’s single.
And that was it. The Blue Jays were limited to 3 allowed hits (2 in that 3rd inning alone) the entire game, and the Indians spent the rest of the game defending that minute lead. Thanks in large part to Miller who threw just 24 pitches through the 7th and 8th innings, and of the 6 outs, 5 were strikeouts. Yes, in his last 11 outs, 10 of them have been strikeouts. Allen once again came in to breeze through the 9th for a save for the Indians, pushing the total of the Indians’ pitching staff’s strikeout count to 13 today.
Final score: 2-1 Indians, Indians lead series 2-0.
Game 2: LA Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
About 350 miles west, or just over 5 hours, or even a time zone away, however you want to look at it, the Dodgers and Cubs started their series tonight, and like I said earlier, this series is going to be one of those theatrical ones that the postseason audience eats up with a spoon.
There were moments where the pitching was good, but honestly, tonight’s game in Wrigleyville was more about the hitting and defense. The Cubs jumped on the board early in the 1st with a lead-off single by Fowler who then scored on Bryant’s double. And Heyward led-off the 2nd with a solid triple and then easily scored on Baez’s double. Baez moved to 3rd on a wild pitch and then had the audacity to steal home successfully on a partial rundown.
The Dodgers finally got on the board in the 5th inning with a big 2-out pinch-hit solo home run by Ethier. But most of the game, both teams relied on their defense to run down and get those outs one-by-one. Nearly repeating his diving grab from the 3rd inning, the Cubs’ centerfielder Fowler ran down a fly ball that for most other plays would’ve been a double, but instead saw Fowler running and diving and breaking his belt on the catch in the 4th inning.
In the 8th, the Dodgers came back strong to make a grasp for the lead. So they started by loading up the bases with 2 singles and a walk (and 2 pitching changes), but they sat loaded through Chapman’s two nasty strikeouts. It would be Gonzalez to poke a single up the middle and through to score 2 runs and tie up the game.
That didn’t sit well with the home team, so they pounced in the bottom of that inning with a new reliever on the mound. Zobrist led-off with a double, but then the pitcher intentionally walked 2 batters with 2 outs. This allowed the pinch-hitter Montero to step up to the plate and hit a big grand slam into the right field seats to solidly put the Cubs back in the lead. Fowler followed this up with a solo home run of his own (this guy can seriously do it all) for the added insurance.
The Dodgers made an attempt to chip away in the top of the 9th, their last-ditch effort of the evening. Pederson hit a 1-out single and then scored on Toles’ double to cut the Cubs’ lead in half, but the next batter hit into a line-out double play, getting Toles doubled off 1st to end the rally attempt and game.
Final score: 8-4 Cubs, Cubs lead series 1-0.
So the Indians travel to Toronto to look to sweep through the Blue Jays starting Monday night. If the Blue Jays are looking to take back this series, they have 3 game schedule in front of their rabidly loyal fan base to do so before they could potentially head back to Cleveland for the final two games. It’s a best-of-7 series, so whichever team wins 4 games first goes onto the World Series.
And the Cubs have another shot tomorrow night to solidify their lead before heading to LA for their scheduled 3 games there. The National League is literally the only part of my postseason bracket that is working right now. I don’t know where these Indians have come from, but I fully blame Miller. Actually, an Indians-Cubs World Series would be kind of fun because Miller and Chapman, former Yankee teammates this year, would have to face each other on a regular basis.
As we know, the postseason is anything but normal and predictable. And let’s face it, we like it that way.