The Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians both advanced through the divisional round in the American League baseball playoffs. Despite the fact that each team swept their opponents the game threes in the respective divisional series were both highly entertaining. That sets up what promises to be a competitive 2016 American League Championship Series between two teams, neither of which has been to the World Series since the 1990s.
Toronto advanced on Sunday in walk-off fashion as Josh Donaldson scored on a failed Texas double-play attempt in extra innings. The Cleveland Indians won a grinder in Game 3 of their series against the Boston Red Sox, a game that also featured tense moments.
The Sox, who trailed for much of the game, found a way to get the tying run to second base with two outs in the ninth at Fenway Park on Monday night. However, they were unable to plate the tying run, a result that ended their season and the career of David Ortiz.
Its been ages since either team won the ALCS
The last time the Cleveland Indians were in the ALCS was 1997, almost 20 years ago. The series was a classic against the Baltimore Orioles, one that saw Tony Fernandez homer in the 11th inning to give the Tribe the series in six games.
The last time the Jays were in the ALCS was just last season, a series that they lost in six games to the Kansas City Royals. However, Toronto have not won the ALCS since way back in 1993 when they defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-2.
The Blue Jays have the experience edge
The Blue Jays head into the 2016 ALCS as the more experienced playoff team thanks to their experience last season. Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion are Toronto players that are proven post-season performers. If nerves come into play then it will likely be the Indians that are jittery -- the key players on the Jays simply aren't made that way.
However, Toronto certainly have some fine tuning to do before the start of the 2016 ALCS. The Jays have hit into a lot of double plays recently, their sacrifice bunt attempts are commonly going foul if they make contact at all, and there are some injury concerns.
Liriano/Travis -- injury concerns as of Monday
According to Alykhan Ravjiani with MLB.com Francisco Liriano, a key Toronto pitcher, is currently in concussion protocol. He took a line drive off the head in Game 2 of the ALDS series against Texas. Thankfully, comments made by Toronto GM Ross Atkins are positive.
"He had an awesome day today," Atkins said. "He was able to come in and do some physical activity with no symptoms, which is a very positive sign. We want to make sure, first and foremost, that we are thinking about the human being before the player, which was the rationale behind replacing him in the ALDS. But he had an incredible day today" (Atkins qtd. in Ravjani article).
Devon Travis, Toronto's starting second baseman, is another question mark. His playing status for the ALCS isn't clear, meaning that the Jays might have to make due with Darwin Barney. The 2016 ALCS starts on Friday, October 14th. When it comes to rest, the Jays have the extra day as Cleveland and Boston were forced to play their Game 3 on Monday thanks to rain. However, both teams promise to have their rotation in good order by Friday.
The Indians, with home-field advantage, are likely to be the favorites of most pundits. However, regardless of who wins the American League's representative in the 2016 World Series with be one that young baseball fans are not used to seeing play at such a late point in the season. #TorontoBlueJays #ClevelandIndians #MajorLeagueBaseball