Are the Cleveland Indians ready to play the role of destiny’s darlings?

It seems that way as the American League playoffs unfold. They have picked up two consecutive wins over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series after sweeping the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

Cleveland’s win in Game 1 of the ALCS was not a surprise, as the Indians had home-field advantage and ace Corey Kluber on the mound. However, when they were able to come up with their second straight victory with Josh Tomlin pitching Saturday, that was surprising.

Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista gave the Blue Jays a formidable lineup against Tomlin, who had a 13-9 record with a 4.40 ERA while allowing 36 home runs in the regular season.

However, the Blue Jays couldn’t figure him out in Game 2, and he allowed just one run in 5.2 innings before Cleveland manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen.

That has been the key factor for the Indians in their first five postseason games. Their relief pitchers, led by sensational left-hander Andrew Miller, have dominated against the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

Miller pitched two scoreless innings apiece in the first two games of the ALCS. He struck out five of the six hitters he faced in Game 2 before closer Cody Allen took care of the ninth inning without any issue. Allen retired the side in order, striking out two hitters.

The lesson for Cleveland’s postseason opponents is to get a lead off the Indians starters before Francona goes to the bullpen.

The Blue Jays will try to make that happen Monday at Rogers Centre in Toronto:

The Blue Jays hitters again appear to have a favorable matchup as Trevor Bauer takes the mound against Marcus Stroman in Game 3. Bauer was 12-8 during the regular season, but he had a 4.26 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. 

He also suffered a laceration of his right pinkie while trying to repair a drone, forcing Francona to make Tomlin his Game 2 starter while pushing Bauer back to Game 3.

Sportsnet shared Francona’s thoughts on the situation:

The Blue Jays will send out Stroman, who will have the huge responsibility of trying to hold down the Cleveland attack while hoping the Blue Jays hitters figure out how to get to Bauer.

Stroman was 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in the regular season, but he limited the Baltimore Orioles to two runs in six innings on the mound in Toronto’s Wild Card Game victory.

Toronto catcher Russell Martin thinks the Blue Jays’ past postseason success can help them come back from their deficit. The team rebounded from a 2-0 deficit against the Texas Rangers to win the 2015 ALDS and then climbed out of a 2-0 hole to extend the ALCS to six games before bowing out to the World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

“Because we’re a good team,” Martin said, per Scott Mitchell of the Toronto Sun. “Just because somebody gets ahead or whatever, I think, we were down 0-2 against Texas last year, and we ended up finding a way to win.”

Nobody in the Cleveland dugout is taking anything for granted.

“Continue to be ourselves,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said, per Richard Justice of “We got to continue to play the game the right way, respect our opponent. Just because we’re up 2-0 doesn’t mean nothing. We have to respect who’s on the other side, because they can come back just like that.”

The Blue Jays are favored to win Game 3 and cut the series deficit to 2-1, according to Odds Shark. They range from minus-183 (bet $183 to win $100) to minus-200 favorites, while the Indians range from plus-165 to plus-183 underdogs for Monday’s game.   

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