The Cleveland Indians drew first blood in the American League Championship Series, and now it’s time for the Toronto Blue Jays to see if they can answer back.

That will not be an easy task, because the Indians continued their shutdown pitching as they defeated the Blue Jays 2-0 in the first game of the ALCS at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Strangely, it was Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada who threw the complete game for his team in a losing effort. While Estrada was sharp, he gave up a two-run homer to Francisco Lindor in the sixth inning, and that was the only hit that produced runs in the series opener.

Estrada became the only Toronto pitcher to throw a complete game this season.

The Indians figured to have an excellent chance to win Game 1 at home with ace Corey Kluber on the mound. He had his good stuff working, but it was more of his ability to work out of trouble that got the job done for 6.1 innings.

Kluber made his best pitches with runners on, and he kept Toronto’s big bats from getting clutch hits. Manager Terry Francona then brought in bullpen ace with one out in the seventh inning, and Andrew Miller pummeled the Blue Jays throughout the rest of the seventh and eighth. Cody Allen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and allowed the Indians to secure the win.

In many ways, Game 1 was a must-win game for the Indians because they had their ace on the mound. They will have a much more difficult time in Game 2 Saturday with Josh Tomlin on the mound against J.A. Happ.

On the surface, the Blue Jays have the advantage. Happ was 20-4 with a 3.18 earned-run average and 1.169 WHIP, and he has the ability to shut down good teams.

Tomlin is not a hard thrower, and the Blue Jays hitters should feel confident that they can get good swings against him.

Tomlin was 13-9 with a 4.40 ERA this season and gave up 187 hits in 174.0 innings. More importantly, he gave up 36 homers this season, and that’s the most of any pitcher on the Cleveland staff by a wide margin.

However, Tomlin is not a pushover. He pitched the clinching game Monday night in the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, limiting his opponents to four hits in five innings.

The Blue Jays are -125 favorites (bet $100 to win $80) to win Game 2, according to Odds Shark. The Indians are +115 underdogs in Game 2 at Progressive Field.

When it comes to the World Series, the Chicago Cubs are solid favorites among the four remaining teams. The Cubs are +140 favorites to win their first World Series title since 1908. The Blue Jays are the second choice at +250, while the Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers are both +450.



The Indians may have gotten the jump on the Blue Jays, but it’s difficult to see them winning this seven-game series. They have the advantage when Kluber pitches, but the rest of their starting staff looks vulnerable. Look for the Blue Jays to turn the series around starting Saturday night. They will win Game 2 with Happ on the mound and take the series in six games.

The Cubs are the strongest team left in the postseason, and they are set up well to beat the exhausted Dodgers in the first two games of the series at Wrigley Field. Cubs manager Joe Maddon will send Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA, 197 strikeouts and 1.016 WHIP) and Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA, 0.979 WHIP) to the mound in the first two games, while Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA, 1.139 WHIP) will start the series opener.

The Dodgers showed plenty of heart in beating the Washington Nationals in five games, and they are likely to fight the Cubs to the limit in each game. However, the Cubs will earn the National League pennant by a 4-1 margin.

The Cubs get to their first World Series since 1945, and their 108-year drought and worldwide following will make them heavy sentimental favorites.

However, the Blue Jays have the depth, power and talent to extend this series to seven games, and by the time it’s over, the Cubs, Maddon and their fans will be left thinking about what might have been. 

Toronto will win the World Series in seven memorable games.


Advanced stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

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