It has only been done once in major league history. If Canada wants to host World Series games this October, it will have to happen for a second time. The Toronto Blue Jays now trail the Cleveland Indians 3-0 in the ALCS, meaning they must do something only the 2004 Red Sox have ever done: come back from 3-0 down to win an MLB postseason series.
A Blue Jays offense that was red hot in the ALDS against has gone ice cold against a Cleveland rotation and bullpen, which is looking more and more scary. So, down 3-0, it begs the question: do the Blue Jays really stand a chance of winning four straight games and reaching the World Series?
The short answer is: probably not.
But, with two more games at home before going back to Cleveland, which is looking more and more like Titletown recently, there is a small chance.
However, the team will have to beat ace Corey Kluber not once, but twice. That’s no small task given the fact Kluber is a legitimate Cy Young candidate this season and shut down the Toronto offense in Game 1 of the ALCS.
Past history certainly stands in the way of the power-hitting team from up north, though. According to Who Wins, teams up 3-0 in best-of-seven series in MLB are 34-1. A great Yankees team is that one loss, so perhaps an Indians team on a roll can be vanquished as well.
Here’s what the path will most likely look like…
Game 4: The team will face Corey Kluber, who is 2-0 and hasn’t allowed a run this postseason. That’s not exactly what you want in a win-or-go-home game. In Game 1 of the series, the Blue Jays didn’t score a run off Kluber in 6.1 innings.
Once Andrew Miller, perhaps the best reliever in baseball, entered the game, they promptly struck out five times; every out Miller recorded was a punch out. Allow Kluber to go that deep into the game again and they are staring a sweep right in the face.
The righty, Kluber, is a tough draw for a righty-heavy lineup Toronto features including Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, and Troy Tulowitzki. A couple of those guys will have to step up to keep the series alive.
Game 5: A chance for some momentum presents itself in this game for the Blue Jays. They are in their final home game of the series and they face inexperienced starter Ryan Merritt. He has just one career win on his resume and it came a few weeks ago.
He is also a lefty the righty-heavy Blue Jays lineup should be able to feast on. Win Game 5, cut the series lead to 3-2, and a big comeback starts to seem a lot more realistic for Toronto.
Game 6: Starters haven’t been announced yet, but one would think Trevor Bauer would get the start in this game unless the blister on his right pinky hasn’t healed enough by then. His pinky was dripping with blood through stitches he got to repair an injury he sustained trying to repair a drone in Game 3 and he was forced out of the game after less than an inning.
It’s hard to say how he would fare against Bauer since he left in the first inning of Game 3. However, the Indians could also decide to start Josh Tomlin, who threw extremely well in Game 2. Bauer would be more fresh, though, after pitching less than an inning in Game 3.
This is a put-away game for the Indians. If they can’t close Toronto out here, the Blue Jays would enter a Game 7 with all the momentum in the world and the Indians would then be the ones with all the pressure on them.
Game 7: On short rest, Kluber would be all but certain to start this winner-take-all Game 7. Nothing shuts down momentum like an ace. Even with the Blue Jays owning all the momentum in the series, Kluber could potentially stifle all of it with a trademark gem.
Everything goes out the window in a Game 7, though. That’s why the Blue Jays have to just take things one game at a time. That’s all you can do when you trail 3-0 in a series. It hasn’t worked for many teams in MLB, but that won’t stop Toronto from fighting and it won’t stop this series from potentially getting a little interesting.
But, first thing’s first: beat Kluber in Game 4 to avoid the sweep.
Good luck with that.
[Featured Image by Matt Slocum/AP Images]