2016 American League Championship Series
|2016 American League Championship Series|
94 - 67 in the AL
|4 - 1
|Toronto Blue Jays|
89 - 73 in the AL
|1||Toronto Blue Jays 0 Cleveland Indians 2||October 14||Marco Estrada (0-1) Corey Kluber (1-0)||8:08 pm|
|2||Toronto Blue Jays 1 Cleveland Indians 2||October 15||J.A. Happ (0-1) Josh Tomlin (1-0)||4:08 pm|
|3||Cleveland Indians 4 Toronto Blue Jays 2||October 17||Trevor Bauer (0-0) Marcus Stroman (0-1)||8:08 pm|
|4||Cleveland Indians 1 Toronto Blue Jays 5||October 18||Corey Kluber (1-1) Aaron Sanchez (1-0)||4:08 pm|
|5||Cleveland Indians 3 Toronto Blue Jays 0||October 19||Ryan Merritt (0-0) Marco Estrada (0-2)||4:08 pm|
Game 1 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Corey Kluber (1-0); LP: Marco Estrada (0-1); SV: Cody Allen (1)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Francisco Lindor (1)|
- Attendance: 37,727
Game 1 turned out to be a pitcher's duel, not surprisingly given that both Marco Estrada, who was starting for Toronto, and Corey Kluber for Cleveland, were coming off excellent performances in their respective Division Series. For Toronto, 2B Devon Travis was back in the starting line-up after having missed the last two games of the ALDS with a knee injury, but it was soon apparent that he wasn't 100% and he had to be substituted midway through the game.
It was the Blue Jays who gave the impression that they would score first, as they put men in scoring position in each of the first four innings. In the 1st, Josh Donaldson singled after one out and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a double that went all the way to the wall. Donaldson could possibly have scored, as it took some time for RF Lonnie Chisenhall to recover the ball, but he conservatively stopped at third base. However, Jose Bautista and Russell Martin both made outs without being able to bring him home, and in retrospect, it would turn to have been the best scoring chance of the evening for Toronto. In the 2nd, Michael Saunders singled with one out and Kevin Pillar followed by drawing a walk, but Travis grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the 3rd, Encarnacion singled with two outs and Bautista drew a walk, but Martin struck out to end the inning. Meanwhile, Estrada was cruising along. Carlos Santana did open the 1st by hitting a soft roller against the defensive shift down the third-base line for a single, but he was immediately erased on a double play grounder by Jason Kipnis. Chisenhall hit a two-out single in the 2nd, causing no damage, and that was it.
The Blue Jays had clearly had the advantage over the first third, but had failed to put any runs on the scoreboard, and Kluber settled down in the next few innings, putting an end to their opportunities to open the scoring. Saunders did hit another one-out single in the 4th and moved up to second on a ground out by Pillar, but Travis ended the inning with a harmless fly ball. For the Indians, Francisco Lindor singled with one out but did not move further, then in the 5th Kluber had his first 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of that inning, Chisenhall led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Coco Crisp and to third on a ground ball near the mound by Tyler Naquin. That's when 2B Travis, who had been limping previously, pulled up lame and had to give way to Ryan Goins. However, the inning ended when Roberto Perez struck out.
In the 6th, Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-out single but was stranded, then Cleveland got all the runs it needed. With one out, Kipnis drew a walk and Lindor followed by driving a two-strike pitch into the right field stands. It was probably the only hard-hit ball off Estrada all evening, but it was enough for Cleveland. Two runs were in, and Toronto's hitters had gone into hibernation after their early flashes. No matter that Estrada hardly gave up anything in the rest of the game, ending up with a complete game, he could only win if he got some hitting support, and that never came. In the 7th, Kluber retired lead-off hitter Pillar, then Terry Francona called on Andrew Miller to take over. John Gibbons sent in two right-handed pinch-hitters against the lefty, Darwin Barney and Melvin Upton, batting for Goins and Ezequiel Carrera respectively, but both struck out. In the 8th, Donaldson managed a lead-off single, but the next three batters - the heart of the Blue Jays' batting order - all struck out. Some of those strikeouts came on close pitches, and Upton, Bautista and Gibbons all had words with home plate umpire Laz Diaz at one point or another, but it did not change anything. In the 9th, closer Cody Allen took over on the mound and he had no trouble in disposing of the Jays in order. The Indians had taken the opener, 2-0, and the Jays' 12 strikeouts against only two walks was a return to some of their poor play of September, and not consistent with the team that had won six straight games since the start of October.
Game 2 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Josh Tomlin (1-0); LP: J.A. Happ (0-1); SV: Cody Allen (2)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Carlos Santana (1)|
- Attendance: 37,870
Game 2 was almost a carbon copy of Game 1, a low-scoring affair in which a couple of runs were enough to win the game for Cleveland. Facing each other were Josh Tomlin for Cleveland and J.A. Happ for Toronto. The Blue Jays had put 2B Devon Travis on the disabled list before the game, with Darwin Barney starting in his place, while Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki switched places in the batting order. For Cleveland, facing a lefthander, Terry Francona put Rajai Davis in CF and Brandon Guyer in LF.
Tomlin started off well as he retired the Blue Jays in order in the top of the 1st, the Jays' batters showing a worrying tendency to swing for the fences, perhaps thinking that it was the way to get to a pitcher who had been second in the American League in homers allowed. That approach did not work. Happ gave up a single to Francisco Lindor with two outs, but nothing else. In the 2nd, Martin hit a two-out single for Toronto, with no further consequence, then Carlos Santana led off the bottom of the frame by taking one of Happ's pitches for a visit to the left-field stands. That 1-0 lead did not last, though. Barney singled with one out in the 3rd and went to second on a ground ball by Ezequiel Carrera. Josh Donaldson then lined a ball down the right field line for a double to tie the score at 1. Tomlin walked Edwin Encarnacion semi-intentionally, but got out of the jam by striking out Jose Bautista.
Cleveland scored the run that was enough to win the game in the bottom of the 3rd. Roberto Perez drew a lead-off walk, then Davis forced him out on what would have been a double play grounder for any runner not as speedy as him. He then stole second base and advanced to third when Happ threw a wild pitch. Jason Kipnis hit a fly ball to shallow left for the second out, but Lindor once again proved the offensive hero for Cleveland as he hit a single to score the go-ahead run. There was very little offensive action the rest of the way. Both pitchers pitched perfect innings in the 4th, and Toronto did so again in the top of the 5th. In the bottom of that inning, Lonnie Chisenhall led off with a single, Perez struck out and Davis hit another apparent double play grounder and again beat out the relay to first. He advanced to second on a wild pick-off attempt by Happ, but could not advance further as Kipnis grounded to first base.
As the 6th inning started, the main question was when the two managers would turn to their bullpen. Tomlin walked Bautista after two outs and gave way to Bryan Shaw who got Tulowitzki to ground out to first. For the Jays, Joe Biagini came out for the 6th and pitched a scoreless inning despite a two-out walk to Santana. In the 7th, Francona turned to Andrew Miller, who was once again dominant, getting Martin, pinch-hitter Melvin Upton and Kevin Pillar, all on strikes. Biagini pitched a perfect bottom of the 7th, but the Indians' one-run lead seemed insurmountable as Miller continued his surgical dismantling of their vaunted line-up: Barney struck out, Carrera managed a weak grounder and Donaldson struck out. John Gibbons put in his closer, Roberto Osuna to pitch the bottom of the 8th and he was impressive as well, retiring Cleveland in order. In the 9th, closer Cody Allen came in to pitch, but he did his best Andrew Miller impersonation, striking out Encarnacion and Bautista before Tulowitzki lifted a soft fly ball to right field for the final out. The Indians were up two games to none while the Blue Jays were wondering why all of their hitters had gone on vacation at this critical juncture of the season.
Game 3 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Bryan Shaw (1-0); LP: Marcus Stroman (0-1); SV: Andrew Miller (1)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Mike Napoli (1), Jason Kipnis (1); TOR - Michael Saunders (1)|
- Attendance: 49,507
The Indians had a concern over starting pitcher Trevor Bauer heading into Game 3. He should normally have started Game 2, but his start was pushed back two days after he cut the little finger of his pitching hand while working on a drone, of all things ("I'm a nerd. I like drones and science fiction", he had explained at a press conference before the game). However, images from his warm-up made it clear that the cut was a bad one, and the rules specified that he was not to put any bandage or other substance on it, so there were questions about how deep he would be able to go in this game. The Blue Jays were glad to be back home in front of a large crowd after being completely stifled in Cleveland, and manager John Gibbons decided to shake things up by moving Jose Bautista to the lead-off slot and having Ryan Goins start at second base. Marcus Stroman was on the mound, his first appearance since starting the Wild Card Game.
As had been their habit since the start of the postseason, the Indians took a quick lead. Stroman started on the wrong foot by walking lead-off man Carlos Santana and after two outs, Mike Napoli, whose bat had seemingly been in hibernation for the past two weeks, hit a ball to deep right field, allowing Santana to score the first run all the way from first base. It was a bad start for Toronto, but after Bautista started off the bottom of the 1st by striking out against Bauer, Josh Donaldson drew a walk. Edwin Encarnacion lined out to center for the second out, then, in walking Troy Tulowitzki, it became visible that the cut on Bauer's finger was bleeding. Gibbons came out of the dugout to point this out to the umpires while Terry Francona made a medical visit. It was clear that Bauer could not go on. Francona had been prepared for the eventuality, and he had both Dan Otero, a short reliever, and Mike Clevinger, a starter/long reliever, warming up. He decided to call on Otero, which meant he would need to use a number of relievers on the night, unless things got out of hand in which case the rookie Clevinger could be called to mop up. That would not be needed, though, as Cleveland's relievers did a superb job.
Otero began things by getting Russell Martin to ground out to end the 1st. In the 2nd, Stroman was in trouble again after walking Coco Crisp with one out. Crisp stole second the advanced to third on a wild pitch with two outs, but Stroman was able to strike out Roberto Perez for the third out. In the bottom of the inning, Michael Saunders led off by driving a pitch from Otero deep to the opposite field for a solo homer; this could have woken up the Jays, but they could do no further damage as Goins grounded into an inning-ending double play after a single by Ezequiel Carrera; the Indians were lucky on the play, as Toronto had put on a hit-and-run play. Goins hit the ball up the middle, but SS Francisco Lindor was standing on the bag, and while he bobbled the hit, he had the presence of mind to keep his foot on the bag, retiring Carrera when he finally got firm control of the ball and then throwing to first to retire Goins. Stroman pitched a perfect 3rd and Jeff Manship replaced Otero in the bottom of the inning, allowing a lead-off single to Bautista but nothing else. Napoli then led off the 4th with a home run to center field to give Cleveland the lead again. At the end of the inning, Stroman had given up only two hits, both by Napoli and both resulting in a run. Zach McAllister replaced Manship with one out in the bottom of the 4th, but it did not change anything for the Blue Jays, as they went down in order.
In the bottom of the 5th, Carrera led off with a triple to right center, getting the crowd on its feet, and Goins followed with an infield grounder that tied the score. Francona reacted by calling on yet another reliever, this time Bryan Shaw; he allowed a two-out hit to Donaldson, but the Jays were unable to take their first lead of the series. Worse, the tie barely lasted as Jason Kipnis, another batter who had done little until then, led off the 6th by driving a ball to right center for a homer. After striking out Lindor, Stroman then gave up another costly walk, this one to Napoli. Gibbons called on reliever Joe Biagini, but one of his pitches bounced away a few feet from C Martin, allowing the slow-footed Napoli to advance to second. Jose Ramirez followed with a single and it was 4-2, Cleveland. Given the way their pitchers had dominated Toronto's batters, it may just as well have been a five-run lead. Indeed, Shaw pitched a perfect 6th, then handed the ball to closer Cody Allen after allowing a lead-off single to Kevin Pillar in the 7th. Pillar managed to steal second base with one out, and Bautista drew a two-out walk, but Donaldson lined a ball straight at Coco Crisp in left field, the veteran making a diving catch to end the inning. For their part, the Blue jays used Jason Grilli and Brett Cecil to get through the 7th and Cecil came back for the 8th, which ended on Lindor getting caught stealing at second base because he very momentarily left the bag after reaching it safely, the play being confirmed by a video review. The Jays were now running out of outs. Allen retired the first two batters in the 8th, then Francona called on his ultimate weapon, the nigh-unhittable Andrew Miller, to close out the win. He got Martin to strike out to end the inning, then in the 9th he allowed a lead-off single to pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro, but got Pillar and pinch-hitter Melvin Upton to strike out and forced Darwin Barney to hit a ground ball to end the game. The Indians were now one win away from the World Series.
Game 4 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Aaron Sanchez (1-0); LP: Corey Kluber (1-1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Josh Donaldson (1)|
- Attendance: 49,142
With their backs to the wall, the Blue Jays finally took a lead in Game 4, and managed to hold on for a win. After sleepwalking through the first three contests, their bats showed some life as they managed 9 hits and finally got some of these with men in scoring position. With a three-game lead, Indians manager Terry Francona took a bit of a gamble in calling back his ace, Corey Kluber, on short rest, instead of using one of his younger pitchers for one start. Both teams went with their regular starting line-ups, with John Gibbons keeping Jose Bautista in the lead-off slot and sticking with Ryan Goins at second base; he also had a well-rested pitcher in Aaron Sanchez, and he had an outstanding start, allowing only 2 hits in 6 innings.
The Indians made the first serious threat of the game in the 3rd when Tyler Naquin led off with a double and was bunted over to third by Roberto Perez. However, he could not score when Carlos Santana hit a sharp ground ball to Goins, and Jason Kipnis grounded out as well to end the inning. In the bottom of the 3rd, the first two Jays batters struck out, but Josh Donaldson put the team ahead for the first time of the series by blasting one of Kluber's pitches to the left-centerfield stands. Even better, the Indians went down in order in the 4th, and the Blue Jays padded their lead when Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin drew back-to-back walks to lead things off in the bottom of the inning, and after one out, Ezequiel Carrera dropped a single to center. Cleveland immediately cut that lead in half, though, on a walk by Coco Crisp and a double by Perez. However, that double would be the last base hit of the afternoon for the team, as the Jays' pitchers were dominant from that point forward. Dan Otero replaced Kluber in the 5th, and while he gave up a couple of singles, he did not allow any runs. In the 7th, Brett Cecil pitched a perfect inning in relief of Sanchez, then the Jays built a bit of a margin of comfort against Bryan Shaw. Goins singled and reached third when Bautista hit a soft grounder down the third base line which Shaw fielded barehanded; he did not get a good grip on the ball and threw it well past first baseman Santana, allowing Bautista to reach safely and Goins to go to third base. After an intentional walk to Donaldson loaded the bases, Edwin Encarnacion came through with a clutch hit, a single to center that scored two runs. Donaldson ran for third, succeeding in drawing a throw even though he was out easily, but the next two batters failed to cash in Encarnacion from second.
With a 4-1 lead, things were now more relaxed for Toronto. Jason Grilli pitched in with a 1-2-3 8th inning, and the bats were heard again in the bottom of the frame, with Carrera's second triple of the series and a sacrifice fly by Kevin Pillar. Roberto Osuna was summoned to close out the game and he did so with flair, striking out two of the three batters he faced for a 5-1 win. The Blue Jays were still alive and could take some solace in the fact that Cleveland would now have to start a rookie pitcher in Game 5, with Kluber having failed to nail down the series.
Game 5 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Bryan Shaw (2-0); LP: Marco Estrada (0-2); SV: Cody Allen (3)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Carlos Santana (2), Coco Crisp (1)|
- Attendance: 48,800
The Indians won the Championship Series thanks to a 3-0 win in Game 5, as the Blue Jays' bats went back to sleep after their one-game awakening the previous day. On paper, this should have been a complicated game for Cleveland, as they were forced by circumstances - the loss of starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco to injuries - to hand the ball to a very inexperienced starting pitcher in rookie Ryan Merritt, whose major league experience consisted of four games including just one start, a win against the Kansas City Royals on September 30th. Originally, another rookie, but a slightly more experienced one, Mike Clevinger, had been penciled in to start Game 4, but after Corey Kluber had been moved ahead by a day to make that start, he had pitched in relief in that game so was not available to start today. Going against him was Marco Estrada, who had been very good in his first two starts of the postseason, even if he had been saddled with the loss in spite of a solid outing in Game 1. John Gibbons made a couple of minor changes to his starting line-up, putting Melvin Upton at designated hitter and Darwin Barney at second base while Terry Francona stuck with his regular line-up against righthanders that had served him well thus far.
Whatever advantage the Blue Jays should have had by starting a more battle-tested pitcher was quickly lost as Francisco Lindor singled with two outs in the 1st, then scored on a double by Mike Napoli. For his part, Merritt started off well, retiring the Blue Jays in order. Both teams went down in order in the 2nd, but in the 3rd, Carlos Santana doubled Cleveland's lead with a homer to right that cast a pall on the Rogers Centre crowd. Indeed, Merritt then completed his third straight 1-2-3 inning and the Blue Jays had a steep hill to climb after the first third of the game, inasmuch as they had found it extremely hard to score any runs against the Indians' pitching all series. Then, the Indians added another painful blow when Coco Crisp added another solo homer with two outs in the 4th. It was now 4-0, and that would end up being the final score.
Josh Donaldson got Toronto's first hit with one out in the 4th, but he was immediately erased on a double play grounder by Edwin Encarnacion. In the 5th, Russell Martin singled with one out and Francona removed Merritt, but he had received much more than he had bargained for from the youngster. He sent in Bryan Shaw, the third and lesser-known member of his dominating bullpen triumvirate, and the American League's games pitched leader did his job even though Michael Saunders, pinch-hitting for Upton, greeted him with a single. Martin could go no further than second base as Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar both struck out. In the 6th, the horror became greater for Toronto as Francona called upon a well-rested Andrew Miller with one out and Jose Bautista on first base following a single. Miller got Donaldson to hit into a double play, the out call at first being upheld after a video review.
Brett Cecil replaced Estrada in the top of the 7th, and while Toronto's relievers continued the excellent work they had done all postseason, it meant little given the lack of offensive production. Miller retired the Jays in order in the bottom of the inning, and after giving up a lead-off single to Dioner Navarro, who pinch-hit for Saunders, he retired the next three Jays batters. It was up to Cody Allen to pitch the 9th. Bautista gave the hometown fans a bit of hope by starting off the inning with a solid double to the left field corner, but that was it: Donaldson and Encarnacion struck out and Troy Tulowitzki popped up meekly in foul territory to end the game. The Indians had won their first American League pennant since 1997. Andrew Miller was named the Series MVP thanks to four outstanding relief outings, although Francisco Lindor would have been a worthy choice as well.
- Jordan Bastian: "Blue Jays-Indians ALCS has see-saw history: Blue Jays, Indians had some wild games, including a 19-inning marathon", mlb.com, October 13, 2016. 
- Ted Berg: "7 things to watch in the Indians-Blue Jays ALCS", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, October 11, 2016. 
- Michael Clair: "Cleveland's going to the World Series thanks to Andrew Miller and Cody Allen's endless Ks", "Cut 4", mlb.com, October 20, 2016. 
- Steve Gardner: "Speed, Russell Martin could be a decisive factor in ALCS", USA Today Sports, October 13, 2016. 
- Richard Justice: "Blue Jays are scary good heading to ALCS", mlb.com, October 10, 2016. 
- Mike Vorkunov: "Believe it, Cleveland: These Indians are going to the World Series", USA Today Sports, October 20, 2016. 
|Major League Baseball American League Championship Series