3 Things Ahead of ALCS Game 3: Bautista’s ‘Circumstances’, The Offense, and It’s Time to Get ‘Toronto Loud’
The Toronto Blue Jays are trailing their ALCS series 2-0, but in many ways, it almost feels like they’re down 3-0 or 3.5-0.
With a complete lack of offense from the Blue Jays lineup, that 2-0 hole feels much larger than it actually is. Luckily, this is a best of seven series and the Blue Jays still have some life. And the series is making a much-needed return to Toronto for Games three, four and five.
If you’re experiencing a little deja vu from last year’s ALCS, you’re not alone. The Blue Jays also dropped the first two games of the 2015 ALCS on the road against the Kansas City Royals.
Just like this year, the Blue Jays were also shut out in Game 1 of the series and limited to a mere three hits. In Game 2, the Blue Jays’ infamously lost that game after a five-run seventh inning derailed the Jays’ chances and eventually lost 6-3.
So the Blue Jays are all too familiar with being down 2-0 in a series. It isn’t insurmountable, but they have a lot of work to do at home in the next three games.
Bautista Says “Circumstances” Are Working Against the Blue Jays
On Sunday, Jose Bautista was quoted as saying that the Blue Jays had to deal with “circumstances”. He was purposely being vague about it because getting specific can get him in a lot of hot water and potentially fined.
Jose Bautista is a great player. He has some of the best plate discipline I’ve ever seen and he has a phenomenal grasp of the strike zone. But is this really the best time to be fighting this battle against the umpires? When your team is down 0-2?
If this were mid-July, I can see how Jose Bautista might think there’s a benefit to pointing this out to national media. But why now?
I’d fully admit, Laz Diaz’ strike zone on Friday was not all that great. But it was that way for both the Blue Jays and Indians. It was hardly the most egregious strike zone, but when runs are at a premium like they are for the Blue Jays right now, these frustrations get amplified.
I get that Jose Bautista is frustrated and he wants to be the advocate for his teammates on these questionable calls in this series. But how is this going to change anything at all? Laz Diaz is gonna Laz Diaz. Sadly, there’s not much the Blue Jays can do about it.
The Blue Jays’ Absent Offense
In Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS, the exact thing happened which I feared may transpire during the playoffs; the Blue Jays of September reared their ugly head once again.
The same swing-happy borderline pitch-taking team which often dug itself into holes showed up once again on Friday and Saturday in Cleveland. And it didn’t much matter that the Blue Jays’ starting pitching was solid, the lineup barely mustered any offense in support.
This is the very same squad that was (and always has been) prone to cold stretches. But when the Blue Jays go through them, they’re ice cold stretches. And for this to be happening in the ALCS of all instances, it’s the worst possible time for the lineup to stop producing.
The Blue Jays are a team that take a lot of pitches, and a lot of borderline pitches at that. Surely, the Cleveland Indians scouting department was all over this, and with a right-handed heavy lineup, it can be easy to pick apart the Blue Jays.
It’s time to get Toronto loud
There’s no doubt that the series turn to Toronto is desperately needed here for the Blue Jays. Coming back home for the next three games could be crucial for the Blue Jays.
Not just for the fact that their home run-heavy lineup is back in its home run-friendly ballpark, but the now-famous reputation of the “Toronto Loud” Blue Jays fans may be yet another home field advantage.
In the past few weeks, the Rogers Centre really has begun to gain a lot of notoriety around baseball for how loud it is at the ballpark.
Last week, Dan Plesac of MLB Network told Prime Time Sports about how impressed he is with the home crowd at the Rogers Centre:
“It is a different fan base now than it was in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This scene at the Rogers Centre right now is awesome. It is loud, it’s intimidating, it might be the best home field advantage in Major League Baseball.”