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Josh Tomlin delivers in Indians’ second ALCS win

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So much for Josh Tomlin giving the Blue Jays a chance to even the series.

The right-hander dominated in Game 2 of the Championship Series, going 5 2/3 innings with a run, two walks, and six strikeouts against a frustrated Toronto offense. In the third inning, Josh Donaldson roped an RBI double to the warning track in right field, but it was too little too late against the Indians’ two-run drive.

Carlos Santana connected on a J.A. Happ fastball in the second inning, driving it over the center field fence to put Cleveland on the board, and Francisco Lindor came through in the bottom of the third to cement the Indians’ one-run lead with an RBI single. As in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Indians’ rotation didn’t need any extra run support to get the job done, thanks in large part to another 3 1/3 shutdown innings by Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

Shaw replaced Tomlin after the starter reached 85 pitches, inducing a groundout from Troy Tulowitzki to strand another runner and end the sixth inning. Despite some questions about his availability after going 1 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the ALCS, Miller looked every bit as capable as he had the night before, striking out the side on 15 pitches in the seventh and issuing a 1-2-3 eighth inning with another two whiffs before handing the ninth to Cody Allen. Allen, too, invoked a strange sense of deja vu after sending the Blue Jays down on a 13-pitch ninth inning.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Blue Jays, however. J.A. Happ went five innings with two runs, a walk, and four strikeouts, his only mistake a pair of heaters delivered straight to Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor. Right-handers Joe Biagini and Roberto Osuna stepped in to handle the last four frames of the game, permitting just one baserunner and limiting the Indians’ attempts to pad their lead late in the game.

If the Blue Jays are going to stay competitive in this series, they’ll have to do so at home. The ALCS will resume at Rogers Centre on Monday, when right-handers Corey Kluber and Marcus Stroman will face off in Game 3 at 8 PM EDT.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.