At each other’s throats again
Game 6: Game 7:
Indians SS Francisco Lindor is one of the game’s rising stars. He has all the tools: a sweet swing, a golden glove and a smile that can light up any ballpark. The 22-year-old plays with a youthful joy that will draw the TV cameras and national audience to him as never before. Liriano’s status: Lefty reliever Francisco Liriano was removed from the Blue Jays roster in the ALDS because of a concussion sustained in Game 2 when a Carlos Gomez line drive struck him in the back of the head. Liriano said this week he felt fine, but he’s not eligible to return until Game 2 of the ALCS. Miller time: Indians manager Terry Francona’s decision to bring in Andrew Miller in the fifth inning in Game 1 of the ALDS — his earliest appearance of the season — proved to be a defining moment as the bullpen closed out the win and the Red Sox never recovered. Francona won’t hesitate to use the talented lefty in a nontraditional way again. Miller hasn’t allowed a run in 121⁄ innings over eight career postseason appearances with 17 strikeouts and an .077 opponents’ batting average.
CLEVELAND — There wasn’t a bench-clearing brawl.
That is about the only thing that didn’t happen during seven tense, theatrical and highly entertaining regular-season games between the Blue Jays and the Indians, who will renew acquaintances when the AL Championship Series opens on Friday night.
If October’s drama is anything close to what it was like between the clubs in July and August, buckle up.
Their previous matchups included a 19-inning marathon July 1 in Toronto and a walk-off Indians win Aug. 19 on back-to-back homers in the ninth inning, the second an inside-thepark shot that turned rookie Tyler Naquin into a local legend.
“I was watching on TV,” said Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who was rehabbing a sprained left knee and missed the series in Cleveland. “There were some games that had some quirky plays in them.”
The Indians, who took the season series 4-3 and swept the Red Sox in the AL Division Series after a season filled with injuries, will start Corey Kluber against Marco Estrada.
Kluber was magnificent in his postseason debut, holding the Red Sox to three hits in seven shutout innings in Game 2 of the ALDS. The right-hander, who injured his quadriceps late in the season, will have to be on his game against the Blue Jays, who hit eight home runs in their sweep of the Rangers.
“Everybody in that lineup can hurt you,” Kluber said. “They have a lot of power, but they’re also patient.”
The Blue Jays have been in playoff mode for weeks. They battled to a wild-card berth and beat the Orioles in the one-game playoff before advancing to the ALCS.
Now they’ll square off with the Indians, a team that may lack marquee names but not confidence.
“They’re a speed-andbase-hit club, and we’re a walk-and-home-run club,” Bautista said. “It’s going to be a pretty good series, I believe.”
The Indians’ Tyler Naquin, bottom, is mobbed after his inside-the-park home run beat the Blue Jays on Aug. 19.
Game 1: Blue Jays (Estrada 9-9) at Indians (Kluber 18-9), 8 p.m. Friday Game 2: Blue Jays (Happ 20-4) at Indians (Bauer 12-8), 4 p.m. Saturday Game 3: Indians (Tomlin 13-9) at Blue Jays (Stroman 9-10), 8 p.m. Monday Game 4: Indians (Clevinger 3-3) at Blue Jays (Sanchez 15-2), 4 p.m. Tuesday Game 5: Indians at Blue Jays, 4 p.m. Wed. (if nec.)
Blue Jays at Indians, 8 p.m. Oct. 21 (if nec.)
Blue Jays at Indians, Oct. 22 (if nec.)