Playoff Reset: Indians vs. Blue Jays ALCS Game 4

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The Game: Cleveland Indians @ Toronto Blue Jays, ALCS Game 4
The Time: 4:00 PM EDT
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Corey Kluber (Indians) vs. Aaron Sanchez (Blue Jays)

The Upshot:

Some things are just not meant to be. I mean, you’re facing a guy with blood gushing out of his finger, leading to him being removed from the game, and you get into the other team’s bullpen in the first inning. And it’s not even the good, dominant part of the bullpen! Yet you still never lead in the game. That’s what the Blue Jays are waking up to today. The notion that they’re just doomed here. Doomed to play shorter games than their opponent in the first instance due to Andrew Miller hanging around but then, even when that’s not the biggest factor, they still can’t get anything going against Cleveland.

The math doesn’t look good for Toronto. As people said about 462 times last night and will say 825 times before 4pm today, only one team has ever come back from being down 0-3 in a seven game series in baseball history. Thirty-three other times the team up 3-0 won. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results, but Dave Roberts is busy managing the Dodgers right now. He’s not walking through that door to help the Blue Jays steal this series back.

The Jays can’t hope for miracles here. All they can do is embrace baseball’s most venerable cliche and take things one game at a time. In this game it will take Aaron Sanchez pitching the game of his life. He had certainly better pitch the best game of his he’s ever pitched against the Indians, with whom he has struggled in three career games. One of those was a start in August in which he gave up four runs on five hits in four innings of work. He allowed six runs on three hits and four walks in his Division Series start against the Rangers.

For the Indians it’s Corey Kluber, the exact horse Terry Francona wants on the track the day after having to use Johnny Wholestaff due to Trevor Bauer‘s finger injury. Kluber has a 5.34 ERA in five career regular-season starts against Toronto, but back on Friday, in Game 1, he held them to six hits, two walks and two runs while striking out six in six and a third. He’s on short rest here, but he also knows that if he can get by the Jays that he’ll have a good amount of time to rest up before the Dodgers and Cubs are done sorting out the NLCS. He can push himself a lot more knowing that it’s pretty unlikely that this thing goes seven games.

But unlikely is not the same thing as impossible. Coming back from being down 0-3 has been done before and doing it now is the only option the Blue Jays have. If they are to advance to the World Series, they must win four straight elimination games. Do-or-die time begins in Toronto this afternoon, just after 4pm.