A look at the best-of-seven American League Championship Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Cleveland (8:08 p.m.); Game 2, Saturday, at Cleveland (4:08 p.m.); Game 3, Monday, Oct. 17, at Toronto (8:08 p.m.); Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Toronto (TBA); x-Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Toronto (TBA); x-Game 6, Friday, Oct. 21, at Cleveland (TBA); x-Game 7, Saturday, Oct. 22, at Cleveland (TBA). (All games on TBS).
Season Series: Indians won 4-3.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (.300, 11 HRs, 50 RBIs), 3B Josh Donaldson (.284, 37, 99), 1B Edwin Encarnacion (.263, 42, 127), DH Jose Bautista (.234, 22, 69), C Russell Martin (.231, 20, 74), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.254, 24, 79), RF Michael Saunders (.253, 24, 57), CF Kevin Pillar (.266, 7, 53), LF Ezequiel Carrera (.248, 6, 23) or Melvin Upton Jr. (.238, 20, 61 with San Diego and Toronto).
Indians: DH Carlos Santana (.259, 34, 87, 99 walks), 2B Jason Kipnis (.275, 23, 82, 41 doubles), SS Francisco Lindor (.301, 15, 78, 19 steals), 1B Mike Napoli (.239, career highs with 34 HRs, 101 RBIs), 3B Jose Ramirez (.312, 11, 76, 46 doubles, .357 with runners in scoring position), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.286, 8, 57), LF Rajai Davis (.249, 12, 48, team-high 43 steals), CF Tyler Naquin (.296, 14, 43, among top 5 rookies in several offensive categories), C Yan Gomes (.167, 9, 34, only 74 games because of injuries).
Blue Jays: RH Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA), LH J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.18), RH Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37, career-high 204 IP), RH Aaron Sanchez (15-2, AL-leading 3.00).
Indians: RH Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14, 227 Ks in 215 innings), RH Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26, career-high 190 innings), RH Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40, 36 HRs in 174 innings), RH Mike Clevinger (3-3, 5.26 in 17 games, 10 starts).
Blue Jays: RH Roberto Osuna (1-6, 2.68, 36/39 saves), RH Jason Grilli (7-6, 1.29, 81Ks in 59 innings with Atlanta and Toronto), LH Brett Cecil (1-7, 3.96), RH Joe Biagini (4-3, 3.06 in 60 games as a rookie), LH Francisco Liriano (8-13, 4.69 with Pittsburgh and Toronto; 2-2, 2.92 in 10 games, 8 starts, for Blue Jays).
Indians: RH Cody Allen (3-5, 2.51, 32/35 saves), RH Bryan Shaw (2-5, 3.24, 75 games), LH Andrew Miller (10-1, 1.45 ERA, 12 saves, 14.9 Ks per 9 innings with Yankees and Indians), RH Dan Otero (5-1, 1.53, 39 of last 46 appearances scoreless), RH Jeff Manship (2-1, 3.12, 53 games), RH Zach McAllister (3-2, 4.44, 53 games).
Toronto and Cleveland, previously AL East foes, have never met in the postseason. But the cities squared off this spring for a spot in the NBA Finals when LeBron James and the Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors en route to a long-awaited championship. … As in ALDS between Indians and Red Sox, there are connections between the franchises. Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro spent 24 years with Indians, working his way up through the front office before leaving last year. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins also came from Cleveland, and Blue Jays player development adviser Eric Wedge is a former Indians manager. … Len Barker pitched a perfect game for Cleveland against Toronto in May 1981. … Indians played two of their most memorable games this season against Toronto. They won 2-1 in 19 innings on July 1 (Canada Day) to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games. Santana hit the decisive homer off Darwin Barney, the second Blue Jays infielder to pitch in the game. Toronto topped the Indians 9-6 the following day. Cleveland also beat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Aug. 19, winning on Naquin’s game-ending, inside-the-park homer. … Four of the seven regular-season meetings were decided by one run. … Bauer came out of the bullpen in the July 1 win and pitched five scoreless innings. … Indians batted .227 against Toronto pitchers in 2016. … Chisenhall hit .348 against Blue Jays despite striking out 12 times in 23 at-bats. … Napoli batted .148 vs. Blue Jays but has 20 career homers and 51 RBIs against Toronto. … Kluber went 0-1 this season and is 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA in five career starts against Blue Jays. He pitched seven shutout innings in his postseason debut against Boston. … Miller has faced the Blue Jays more than any Cleveland pitcher, posting a 3-1 record and 4.11 ERA in 30 games. … Donaldson is 9 for 18 with five doubles and three RBIs in four playoff games this year. He has a .778 slugging percentage and has scored five runs. … Encarnacion is 6 for 16 (.375) with three homers and seven RBIs in playoffs. He has four career postseason homers, the second-highest total in Blue Jays history. Bautista and Joe Carter each have six. … Tulowitzki is 6 for 17 (.353) with five RBIs in playoffs. … Two of Bautista’s four hits this postseason have been home runs. … Blue Jays have outscored opponents 26-12 in four postseason games and outhomered them 10-3. … Estrada allowed one run over 8 1/3 innings to beat Texas in Game 1 of ALDS. He is 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in eight postseason games, four starts. … Sanchez is expected to make only one ALCS start as Blue Jays limit his career-high workload.
Blue Jays: After snapping a 22-year postseason drought in 2015, Toronto reached the playoffs for the second straight season under manager John Gibbons. The last time the Blue Jays did that was a three-year run from 1991-93 that ended with back-to-back World Series titles. … This time, Blue Jays (89-73) captured the top AL wild card by winning their last two regular-season games in Boston. They beat division-rival Baltimore at home in the wild-card game on Encarnacion’s three-run homer in the 11th inning, then eliminated Texas in the ALDS for the second consecutive year. The win over the Rangers marked the first postseason sweep in Blue Jays history. … Toronto is 6-0 in October after going 11-16 in September, its worst month of the season. … Blue Jays averaged an AL-worst 3.69 runs in September and October regular-season games, a full run off their season average of 4.70. … Blue Jays starters were strong down the stretch, allowing no more than one earned run in 12 of the final 17 games. The bullpen struggled, however, blowing leads five times in a seven-game stretch that ended Oct. 1. … Blue Jays went 46-35 at home, the fourth-best mark in the division. … Toronto has several pending free agents, including Bautista, Encarnacion, Saunders, Cecil and RHP R.A. Dickey.
Indians: Cleveland makes its fifth ALCS appearance and first since 2007. Indians haven’t been to World Series since 1997. … Indians (94-67) took lead in AL Central on June 4 and never looked back, winning division with ease. They’ve overcome adversity all season. Star outfielder Michael Brantley played in just 11 games following shoulder surgery, but team got unexpected contributions from Ramirez, Naquin and others to more than pick up slack. … Cleveland’s starting pitching was supposed to carry club, but it’s been a consistent lineup and one of baseball’s best bullpens that has Indians playing again in October. Manager Terry Francona’s deft touch has kept team energized and believing it can make a deep playoff run. … Cleveland hasn’t won the World Series since 1948, but following Cavs’ NBA title in June, Indians don’t feel pressured to end city’s championship drought. … Front office stepped up at trade deadline and acquired Miller, who might be most valuable reliever in majors. Also, team acquired Brandon Guyer and Coco Crisp to provide depth in outfield. Abraham Almonte is not available in postseason because of PED suspension. … Indians are different team at home, where they went AL-best 53-28 and led league with 11 walkoff wins. … Indians didn’t lose three straight all season.
- Center Stage. Die-hard baseball fans know Lindor, one of the game’s rising stars. He’s got all the tools: a sweet swing, golden glove and smile that can light up any ballpark. The 22-year-old shortstop plays with a youthful joy that will draw the TV cameras and national audience to him as never before.
- Liriano’s Status. The left-hander was removed from Toronto’s roster in the ALDS because of a concussion sustained in Game 2. He was struck in the back of the head by Carlos Gomez’s line drive, measured at 102 mph off the bat. Liriano, who has made two relief appearances this postseason, said this week he felt fine. He’s not eligible to return until Game 2 of the ALCS.
- Miller Time. Francona’s decision in Game 1 of the ALDS to bring in Miller in the fifth inning - his earliest appearance of the season - proved to be a defining moment as Cleveland’s bullpen closed out the opener and the Red Sox never recovered. Francona won’t hesitate to use the talented lefty in a nontraditional way again. Miller has not allowed a run in 12 1/3 innings over eight career postseason appearances. He has 17 strikeouts and has limited opponents to a .077 batting average (3 for 39).
- Devon’s Knee. Travis was scratched from Game 2 of the Division Series with a bone bruise in his right knee. After a cortisone shot Saturday, he was available off the bench in Game 3 but did not play. Atkins said Travis is improving and is expected to return for the ALCS. Travis said he felt much better and will be ready to go in Game 1. Barney, a former Gold Glove winner, made two starts for Toronto in the ALDS.
- Cleveland Rocks. After waiting 52 years for one of its major pro sports teams to win a championship, Cleveland could be on the brink of a second one in four months. James and a few teammates attended the Division Series to support the Indians and promised a return visit.
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