Indians lead series 1-0
The Cleveland Indians shut down Toronto’s explosive offense in the opener and look to take a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series when they host the Blue Jays in Game 2 on Saturday. Three Cleveland pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts in Friday’s 2-0 shutout while Francisco Lindor belted a two-run homer for the game’s only scoring.
Toronto belted eight homers and scored 22 runs while sweeping Texas in the AL Division Series but managed just one extra-base hit – a double by Edwin Encarnacion – in the ALCS opener while being handcuffed by Corey Kluber (six strikeouts), Andrew Miller (five) and Cody Allen (one). Lindor, who hit 15 homers in the regular season, drilled his second of the playoffs in the sixth inning as the Indians won their fourth consecutive game this postseason. Josh Tomlin will be the Game 2 starter for Cleveland after Trevor Bauer cut the tip of his right pinkie finger while performing maintenance on his drone. “This was not malicious. He could have been opening a box in the kitchen,” Indians manager Terry Francona said at a press conference. “Things happen. I wish it wouldn’t have, but like I said, it wasn’t done maliciously, it wasn’t done by being silly. Just happened.”
TV: 4:08 p.m. ET, TBS, Sportsnet (Toronto)
WEATHER REPORT: Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70’s are in the forecast for Game 2 in Cleveland. There is a 10 percent chance of rain but I wouldn’t bet on it.
CURRENT SERIES PRICES (odds via Westgate LV Superbook):
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Indians RH Josh Tomlin (1-0, 3.60)
Happ stunned everyone in baseball by posting a career-best 20-4 record this season and also defeated Texas in the ALDS. The 33-year-old made some adjustments late last year while with Pittsburgh, and Toronto built on those changes after signing him in the offseason. “He dropped his arm angle. He used to be right over the top and it affected his control,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said at a press conference. “He was either up or down in the zone, never got ground balls. Got a lot of strikeouts, but got a lot of foul balls, too. It made him work pretty good.”
Tomlin served up 36 homers in the regular season, which certainly is a concern with Toronto featuring so many power hitters in its lineup. The 31-year-old said being moved up two days to start Game 2 won’t affect his routine as he already was expecting to pitch twice in the series. “It’s just another start. You’ve got to prepare yourself, no matter what day you’re pitching,” Tomlin said at a press conference. “So I don’t think it really changes the fact that you’re pitching Game 7 or Game 6. It’s just now your day’s lined up on Game 6 as opposed to Game 7. My job is still to go out there and compete and try to win a game.”
* Blue Jays are 6-1 in their last 7 overall.
* Blue Jays are 10-1 in Happ’s last 11 road starts.
* Indians are 7-0 in their last 7 overall.
* Under is 7-0 in Blue Jays’ last 7 games following a loss.
* Under is 6-0-1 in Tomlin’s last 7 starts overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 65 percent of the Covers public is on the Blue Jays and Under is picking up 56 percent of the early wagers.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs (-190, 7)
Series tied 0-0
The Chicago Cubs avoided an anxiety-filled Game 5 at home in the National League Division Series with a remarkable ninth-inning comeback on Tuesday and then waited around until late Thursday to figure out who they would face in the Championship Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who authored their own dramatic road victory in the NLDS, were the lucky winners in the battle of teams fighting for the chance to go up against the best team in baseball and will visit Chicago for Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.
The Cubs got six RBIs from their pitchers in the NLDS and are hoping the momentum from a four-run ninth inning in Game 4 can carry over to the next series for the offense. “We struggled at the plate in that series,” Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters. “Maybe that kind of rally is what we needed to open the flood gates. … It’s nice to know we can win a series without having our best offense.” The Dodgers went into a decisive Game 5 in Washington on Thursday and battled through a seventh inning that saw them take the lead over the course of 1 hour, 6 minutes, and then they had to turn to ace Clayton Kershaw to close it out. “It’s just one of those things that when you’re in the middle of a game, you’re trying to count outs and shorten the game and put guys in the best position to have success on the offensive side, the defensive side,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the win.
TV: 8:08 p.m. ET, FS1
WEATHER REPORT: There is a chance of thunderstorms on the North Side of Chicago for Saturday evening with the probability increasing as the game gets into the later evening hours. The temperatures are expected to be in the high-60’s/low-70’s for the game. The daily Wrigley Field wind update is looking like a 10-13 mph breeze blowing out to left.
CURRENT SERIES PRICES (odds via Westgate LV Superbook):
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Kenta Maeda (0-1, 12.00 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Jon Lester (1-0, 0.00)
Kershaw started Game 4 and closed out Game 5 of the NLDS, so Los Angeles will turn to Maeda in Game 1 of the NLCS. The native of Japan was roughed up for four runs on five hits and a pair of walks over three innings in his NLDS start and has lost three in a row while posting an 11.17 ERA going back to the regular season. Maeda, who is facing Chicago for the first time in his career, went 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 17 road starts this year.
Lester is one of three legitimate Cy Young Award candidates on the Cubs’ staff and will get the Game 1 nod over Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta after tossing eight scoreless innings in the NLDS opener versus San Francisco. The 32-year-old, who went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA during the regular season, struck out five and did not walk a batter against the Giants to improve to 7-6 with a 2.63 ERA in 17 career postseason games (15 starts). Lester faced the Dodgers twice in the regular season and allowed a total of one run while striking out 16 over 15 innings.
* Dodgers are 1-10 in their last 11 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
* Dodgers are 0-8 in their last 8 League Championship road games.
* Cubs are 0-7 in their last 7 League Championship games.
* Cubs are 8-0 in Lester’s last 8 home starts vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 4-0 in Maeda’s last 4 starts vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 10-1 in Lester’s last 11 starts overall.
* Under is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings in Chicago.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 76 percent of the Covers public is on the Cubs and Under is picking up 58 percent of the early wagers.