The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in a virtual must-win situation on Monday night. The AL Wild Card winners host the Cleveland Indians in Game 3 of the 2016 ALCS, looking to avoid a 3-0 series deficit.
Toronto sends Marcus Stroman to the mound against Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer. Stroman pitched well in his one postseason outing this year, allowing two runs in six innings against the Baltimore Orioles. But that kind of performance might not be enough on Monday, considering the way the Indians have pitched in the first two games.
The Blue Jays scored just one run in Cleveland, getting shut out in the series opener and losing 2-1 in Game 2 on Saturday. The Indians’ offense hasn’t been much better, totaling just four runs in two games.
Bauer has been terrific against Toronto in two starts this season, allowing just two runs and seven hits in 13 innings. He struck out 13 batters on Aug. 19 when the Indians defeated the Blue Jays 3-2, though he has a career ERA of 7.11 at Rogers Centre.
Bauer was supposed to start Game 2, but he suffered a cut on his pinky that forced Cleveland to move him to Game 3. He allowed three runs in 4.2 innings when he faced the Boston Red Sox in his only postseason start of the year, and Bauer says he’s ready to go for Monday’s game.
“It's really a non-issue,” Bauer told reporters on Sunday before Cleveland had its workout. “I've been able to throw normally and stuff.”
The Blue Jays’ hitters have a .257 career batting average against Bauer in 74 combined at-bats. Devon Travis is the only Toronto player that’s taken Bauer deep, but his season is over because of a knee injury. Michael Saunders has had the most success against Bauer with five hits in nine at-bats, as well as three walks. Saunders, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion are the only Blue Jays with more than one hit in the ALCS.
Stroman hasn’t beaten the Indians in 2016, but he’s surrendered just two runs in 14 innings against Cleveland. The Indians are hitting .218 with no home runs and three RBI against the right-hander. Lonnie Chisenhall, who leads Cleveland with a .438 batting average in the playoffs, leads the team with a .429 career average against Stroman.
A win for Cleveland would all but guarantee them a trip to the World Series against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2004 Boston Red Sox are the only team in MLB history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, doing so against the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
Game 3 of the ALCS starts at 8 p.m. ET in Toronto. TBS has TV coverage, and a free live stream will be available online at TBS.com.