CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians edged the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday at Progressive Field, 2-1, taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game:
Trouble With The Curve: Josh Tomlin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the way he’s pitched against two of the American League’s toughest offenses in the postseason. Not many would have given the righty a chance to hold the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays to just three runs over 10 2/3 innings, but Tomlin has kept some of the league’s best hitters off-balance and executed a tremendous game plan in Game 2. In the 2-1 victory, Tomlin threw his curve 42.4 percent of the time, and his 36 total curveballs thrown were the most of any start in his career. Only one Blue Jays hitter managed to put a Tomlin curve in play, as the righty recorded six swinging strikes and six more called strikes with the offering. His early use of his cutter and sinker also led to 10 ground outs and just one fly ball out, a surprise given Tomlin’s 39 percent career ground ball rate. By keeping the ball on the ground, Toronto’s big bopper were never able to elevate and take advantage of Tomlin’s propensity to give up homers.
Growing Star: Surprising to no one, Francisco Lindor again proved his star was on the rise, driving in the game-winning run with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, the final tally in Saturday’s close ballgame. Lindor stepped to the dish, facing Toronto starter J.A. Happ, and drove in Rajai Davis from third with a liner back up the middle. The stage has continued to be just right for the 22-year-old shortstop, who seems to entering superstar territory on a national level. And of course, it wasn’t just Lindor’s bat making noise in Game 2. The talented middle infielder made a tremendous play in the in the top of the second, stealing a hit away from Jose Bautista by ranging in the hole, snagging a grounder, leaping in the air and making a strong one-hop throw to first baseman Mike Napoli, bringing the loud capacity crowd to its feet.
Goodnight, Everybody: Andrew Miller also deserves a load of credit, not just for another impressive performance on Saturday, but for his work over the entire postseason and willingness to be used for multiple innings over consecutive days, as he was on Friday and Saturday night. And he’s been getting it. But it’s also important to not lose sight of how dominant Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen were in Game 2, teaming up with Tomlin and Miller to lock the Blue Jays down in the victory. Allen, in particular, was extremely impressive, striking out Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista and getting Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to center field to end the game in neat, quick fashion. And it only took Cleveland’s “closer” 13 pitches to finish it off, bringing the Indians within two wins of reaching the World Series and proving yet again how vital the Tribe’s bullpen is to their success in the playoffs.