What looked like an even match-up on paper looked anything but that on the field as the Indians trounced the Blue Jays 2-0 to take their first win of the Championship Series.
Cy Young nominee Corey Kluber wielded a nasty curveball in 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing eight baserunners and striking out six. Of the eight batters to reach base, five found themselves in scoring position through the first four frames. Kluber painted the corners of the strike zone with his off-speed stuff and, failing that, leaned on a couple of slick defensive moves from Mike Napoli to limit Toronto’s threat on the basepaths.
The Blue Jays, on the other hand, found themselves outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, and outplanned, even as their right-hand(ed) man went the distance for a complete game loss. Marco Estrada took a shutout into the sixth inning, where Francisco Lindor manipulated a changeup for the first and only runs of the night on a one-out, two-RBI bomb to right field.
Estrada knocked out six strikeouts in the eight-inning loss, becoming one of four pitchers to log a complete game loss in the postseason since 1996 — and the second since the 2016 postseason began. (Giants’ right-hander Johnny Cueto holds the other complete game loss of this year’s playoff run, with a 10-strikeout three hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS.)
At the end of the day, however, the Blue Jays’ offense was stifled by an airtight Indians’ defense. When Kluber and his 0.00 postseason ERA exited the game, left-hander Andrew Miller and his 0.00 ERA arrived, surrendering one base hit and striking out five in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Closer Cody Allen needed just eleven pitches to see him through the ninth inning, and worked his way to a full count only once on a Michael Saunders strikeout.
The ALCS will resume on Saturday afternoon at 4 PM EDT when Josh Tomlin and J.A. Happ take the mound.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.