Typically when I’m doing a recap of a game, I’ll take notes during it and, depending on how the game is going, will sometimes start writing in earnest. There are games when you can tell the likely result in the middle innings. Sometimes the score is ridiculously lopsided or a pitcher is rolling along like a steamroller and the gut hunch that says “Cleveland is gonna win this (or not)” is generally correct.
I didn’t have that gut hunch on Saturday. This is Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, and you can’t assume anything. Going into the game, one of my biggest worries was Josh Tomlin, who gave up 36 home runs during the regular season (2nd most in the AL), going up against a Toronto team that ranked 3rd in the American League in home runs (221) during the regular season. And for a team that scored the the second-most runs during the regular season, Cleveland only managed 2 runs against the Blue Jays in the series opener. Cleveland’s pitching has been superb. Toronto’s pitching has been just a little less than superb. So even though the Indians never trailed on Saturday, it wasn’t the kind of game where you could sit back and relax.
Tomlin cruised through the first two innings. Carlos Santana put the Indians on the board with a solo home run in the 2nd inning. Toronto came right back with a small ball manufactured run in the top of the 3rd. In the bottom of the 3rd, Rajai Davis manufactured the go-ahead run on his own (with a little help from Francisco Lindor). With Roberto Perez on 1st, Davis grounded into a force out. Perez was out at 2nd, but never fear. Davis took advantage of Blue Jay catcher Russell Martin‘s abyssmal caught stealing percentage (15%) and took 2nd base. Then he took 3rd base on a wild pitch by Toronto starter J.A. Happ. This put him in the right place at the right time–a single from Lindor brought him home to make the score 2-1. And that’s where it stayed.
Tomlin was outstanding. He went 5.2 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 hits with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. He made the Blue Jays hit the ball on the ground, inducing 12 ground outs.
Bryan Shaw faced one batter in the 5th, then Andrew Miller came in for two innings and did that thing where he makes otherwise competent batters swing around and around like ceiling fans, hitting nothing but air. Miller has struck out 10 of the 11 batters he’s faced in the post-season. Considering this series is an international affair, it’s unclear if 5 strikeouts in 2 innings is some sort of violation of the Geneva Convention. Cody Allen did his part in the 9th, sending down the Blue Jays 1-2-3 with 2 strikeouts. Lights out, Indians win.
I don’t know how long this ride is going to last, but I intend to keep losing my chill over the Cleveland Indians until it does. Next stop: Rogers Centre on Monday night.