TORONTO (Oct. 13) — In the end, it will come down to the concussion of bat meeting ball — the sweet, unmistakable sound that fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have grown to anticipate this season. A sound ominously scarce during Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre, but one that echoed loudly through the vastness of Globe Life Park in Arlington, Tex. on Sunday and Monday, as the visitors clubbed their way back to even in the best–of–five playoff. Yes, indeed… that sound.
Should it be heard with frequency at the Dome tomorrow afternoon, the Blue Jays will advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1993… and become only the third team in Major League history to rebound after dropping the first two games at home in a best–of–five skirmish. Because, really, it’s simple: the Blue Jays’ ability to whack the ball far supersedes anything the Texas Rangers can offer. If the Toronto hitters are homed in — particularly the “Murderer’s Row” threesome of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion — there isn’t much Cole Hamels can do to avoid a rough afternoon. The Blue Jays have eaten left–handed pitching all season and with this team, it often doesn’t matter. You can be a lefty; a righty; ambidextrous; a pitching machine or a jai alai server.
Ultimately, the Toronto bats will prevail.
That’s why the incessant chatter today about the pitching choice of Marcus Stroman over David Price is so much white noise. Unless Stroman has an all–time game and hurls a one or two–hitter — quite a lot to expect from a kid making his second playoff start — advancement to the League Championship Series will rest with Donaldson and Co. This is not unprecedented in Blue Jays post–season history. The 1993 World Series team was fueled by “WAMCO” — the top–five bats of Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud. Toronto hitters finished 1–2–3 in average during the regular season — Olerud (.363), Molitor (.332) and Alomar (.326). They were unstoppable in the ’93 Series against Philadelphia.
Early tonight, the Chicago Cubs eliminated St. Louis in Game 4 of the National League Division Series — the Cardinals having led the Majors with 100 wins this season. But, they were no match for Chicago’s power–laden line–up, as Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Co. banged out nine home runs in the final two games; Schwarber one of the longest, arcing homers I’ve ever seen to provide the Cubs an insurance run tonight. Chicago goes to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003.
LEFT–FIELDER KYLE SCHWARBER AND THE CHICAGO CUBS POWERED THEIR WAY PAST ST. LOUIS IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES, BELTING 10 HOME RUNS IN FOUR GAMES AND CLINCHING A PLAYOFF ROUND AT WRIGLEY FIELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FRANCHISE HISTORY. TBS IMAGES
So, yes, relentless hitting — especially with power — can subdue good pitching. It has been the Blue Jays prescription for success throughout the 2015 season and will have to be the dominant aspect of Wednesday’s deciding ALDS game against Texas. I think the chance of another eruption is fairly sound.
There was a common theme in Toronto newspaper pages Wednesday: