The Cleveland Indians are underdogs in the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays despite having home-field advantage. What can the Tribe do to pull off the upset?
When the American League Championship Series gets underway at Progressive Field on Friday night, it will feature arguably the two hottest teams in all of Major League Baseball. Going back to the end of the regular season, both the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays have won six games in a row, seven of their last ten, and are coming off sweeps in the ALDS.
While Cleveland has the home-field advantage and has been every bit as impressive as Toronto, the Indians are considered the underdogs in the series. That’s just fine with the team, which has used an “us against the world” mentality throughout a season that has been filled with injuries and adversity.
“We were the underdogs coming out of [the Boston series],” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “Nobody predicted we were coming out of this one. Across the board on ESPN and everybody. Those are the people to prove wrong. But, we’re focusing more on the people to prove right, the ones in here who are on our side, and we’re looking forward to the next stage.”
The Tribe met the Blue Jays seven times in the regular season, taking the series 4-3, but were outscored 38-24 in those games. A 17-1 win by the Jays on July 3rd skews those results, though, and all six other games were decided by three runs or less, including four one-run games.
“We’re so evenly matched, it’s unbelievable,” Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “They probably do it a little bit of a different way than we do it, but this is going to be probably the best series that you’re going to see all postseason, as far as the way we match up against each other. It’s going to be fun.”
On paper, at least, this promises to be a closely-contested, hard-fought series between two clubs who were given little chance by the experts when the playoffs began. With a trip to the World Series on the line, we wouldn’t want it any other way.
So how can Cleveland come out on top and earn that berth in the Fall Classic?