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Blue Jays searching for answers after losing third ALCS game Monday


Leading off with Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki did nothing for team

TORONTO - Blue Jays manager John Gibbons felt his team got a spark when he moved Jose Bautista into the leadoff spot during the regular season.

He tried it again Monday in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, but didn't get the same result.

Bautista singled in the third inning for his first hit since Game 1 of the AL Division Series, but the meat of the Toronto lineup was quiet in a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

MORE: The bleeding finger report

Gibbons lined up four of his top sluggers - Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki - in the first four spots but collectively they went 2 for 13. Toronto had only seven hits, left seven runners on base and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

MORE: Court in Canada does not disallow Indians name, logo

The Blue Jays have managed just three runs in the series and are now a loss away from elimination. Outfielder Kevin Pillar, who was 1 for 4, said there's no easy fix when an offence cools off.

“If we knew we'd be doing it,” he said. “That's baseball, it's a tough sport. We just haven't been able to come up with a big hit, it's that simple. It's not from a lack of effort.

“Everyone in here wants to win, everyone in here cares. That's just how it goes sometimes. They're sitting over there with a 3-0 lead because they are getting the timely hits.”

MORE: Quick look ahead

Game 4 goes Tuesday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Gibbons said he doesn't expect to make any significant changes to the batting order for the must-win contest.

“I may have already done that enough,” he said. “No, we'll run the boys out there tomorrow that got us to this point.

“It's a pretty good group. And they're due. They're due. We'll see. We'll see if it's tomorrow.”

TORONTO - Blue Jays manager John Gibbons felt his team got a spark when he moved Jose Bautista into the leadoff spot during the regular season.

He tried it again Monday in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, but didn't get the same result.

Bautista singled in the third inning for his first hit since Game 1 of the AL Division Series, but the meat of the Toronto lineup was quiet in a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

MORE: The bleeding finger report

Gibbons lined up four of his top sluggers - Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki - in the first four spots but collectively they went 2 for 13. Toronto had only seven hits, left seven runners on base and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

MORE: Court in Canada does not disallow Indians name, logo

The Blue Jays have managed just three runs in the series and are now a loss away from elimination. Outfielder Kevin Pillar, who was 1 for 4, said there's no easy fix when an offence cools off.

“If we knew we'd be doing it,” he said. “That's baseball, it's a tough sport. We just haven't been able to come up with a big hit, it's that simple. It's not from a lack of effort.

“Everyone in here wants to win, everyone in here cares. That's just how it goes sometimes. They're sitting over there with a 3-0 lead because they are getting the timely hits.”

MORE: Quick look ahead

Game 4 goes Tuesday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Gibbons said he doesn't expect to make any significant changes to the batting order for the must-win contest.

“I may have already done that enough,” he said. “No, we'll run the boys out there tomorrow that got us to this point.

“It's a pretty good group. And they're due. They're due. We'll see. We'll see if it's tomorrow.”

Cleveland Indians leave Jays on brink of playoff exit after Game 3 loss

TORONTO - Things looked bleak for the Cleveland Indians, their ailing pitching rotation already in intensive care, when a bloody Trevor Bauer walked off the mound after just two outs and 21 pitches Monday night.

Bauer's pinky finger on his pitching hand, repaired by 10 stitches after a bizarre drone accident last Thursday, was leaking crimson.

“When I went out there, I mean - first thing I saw was blood on the rubber,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “I figured that wasn't a real good sign that things were going well. It was bleeding pretty good.”

“There was kind of a puddle forming below him on the mound,” added second baseman Jason Kipnis.

Francona dug into his bullpen and got good outings from one reliever after another as the Indians defeated Toronto 4-2 in a remarkable pitching-by-committee performance, burying the Blue Jays in an 0-3 hole in the American League Championship Series.

“That wasn't the way we drew it up,” Francona said. “But about our bullpen, that's one of the most amazing jobs I've ever seen. I mean, starting with (Dan) Otero to (Jeff) Manship to (Zach) McAllister to (Bryan) Shaw, if anybody has a hiccup we probably lose. And they all made pitches, and against some really good hitters.”

It was more of the same for the Blue Jays, their bats rendered near useless by Cleveland's pitching. Toronto has scored just three runs and struck out 34 times in three games against the Indians, who have done just enough offensively to win. Toronto, which has yet to hold a lead in the series, is hitting .177 (17-for-96).

Mike Napoli, who came in the game mired in an 0-for-25 drought against right-handers, homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Indians. Kipnis also had a solo homer in a two-run sixth that put Cleveland ahead 4-2.

Michael Saunders homered for Toronto, which is now in do-or-die mode for the rest of the best-of-seven series.

“Tito (Francona) did a masterful job running that bullpen today,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “They shut us down. I'm not going to get into who's did what, this or that. But they did a great job going through a number of guys and did a good job shutting us down.

“I had a good feeling at the end, it didn't happen, but we'll show up (Tuesday). It's definitely a daunting task, but it's been done before.

Toronto has a mountain to climb. Teams up 3-0 in best-of-seven series are 34-1 all-time with the 2004 Yankees the only team to lose (to the Red Sox).

“It's either you win or you go home and I don't want to go home. And I don't think anybody in this clubhouse wants to go home yet,” said Toronto catcher Russell Martin.

Game 4 goes Tuesday with Toronto's Aaron Sanchez against Indians ace Corey Kluber, pitching on three days rest. Francona had planned to go with rookie Ryan Merritt if Bauer had managed to pitch deep into Tuesday's game.

“If we don't bring (Kluber) back (Tuesday) and he pitches Game 5, we don't have a starter for Game 7,” Francona said.

The Cleveland starting rotation has already had to be revamped due to late-season injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.

By using six relievers, the Indians did not burn any out.

“We used a large number of them, but nobody - I think Shaw threw 27 (pitches), which was the most. I'm guessing everybody will be available (Tuesday),” Francona said.

Shaw (1-0) got the win as Toronto hitters were forced to adjust to a smorgasbord of pitching styles and speeds. The Indians became the first team in post-season history to win without any one pitcher recording more than five outs.

Cleveland is one win away from the World Series. The Indians won it all in 1920 and 1948, losing in 1954, 1995 and 1997.

Cleveland's star reliever Andrew Miller, who had struck out 10 of the 12 Jays he faced in the first two games, came on with four outs remaining. He got a strikeout to end the eighth but gave up a single to pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro to open the ninth.

Miller struck out Kevin Pillar and Melvin Upton Jr. and Darwin Barney grounded out to extinguish the rally.

The Indians have won nine straight dating back to the end of the regular season while extending their franchise-record post-season streak to six victories.

Blood was dripping from Bauer's unbandaged finger like a faucet and his uniform was stained with crimson drops when umpire Brian Gorman walked out to the mound and summoned Francona for a pitcher who wasn't leaking red.

Even before the game, Bauer's finger looked like someone had taken a razor-sharp ice-cream scoop to it. But the 25-year-old seemed unfazed, using his right hand to flex a whippy exercise bar outside the Indians dugout.

“It was all scabbed up. It just started bleeding today,” he said. “Lot of bleeding throughout the (warmup). It hadn't been bleeding for two days, which was nice, but I guess the scab scratched or whatever.”

Bauer had a strikeout, walk, flyout and walk before making his bloody exit. He only managed nine strikes.

“After watching Trevor go through this week I was surprised that that happened. I think everybody was,” Francona said of the finger going south so quickly. “But it did. I mean, I don't think you can simulate trying to be at game speed and things like that. And unfortunately, it opened up.”

It brought back memories of the 2004 ALCS when Boston pitcher Curt Schilling won Game 6 despite leaking blood through his sock from an ankle injury.

Via Twitter, Schilling made it clear he did not appreciate the comparison.

“Please don't tweet at me about Bauer. He cost himself a start, likely more, AND his teammates, and fans, dicking around with a drone. #stupid.”

Francona, who was manager of the Red Sox back then, also downplayed it.

“That was 12 years ago. I can barely remember last week,” he said.

Toronto used four pitchers in relief of starter Marcus Stroman (0-1).

Stroman struggled with his control early on, throwing 20 strikes and 18 balls in the first two innings. He settled down with a 1-2-3 11-pitch third inning, part of a stretch that saw him retire 11 of 13 with the Napoli and Kipnis homers the lone blemishes.

It was Stroman's first start since the Oct. 4 wild-card win over Baltimore. And the first multi-homer game allowed by the right-hander since July 15, a span of 14 starts.

“I had great stuff,” he said. “I just didn't locate on certain pitches and they capitalized on mistakes.”

The Indians made Stroman pay for walking Carlos Santana on five pitches to walk to open the game when, two outs later, Napoli doubled off the right-field wall to drive in a run. Jose Bautista had the ball in his glove as he was about to make contact with the wall but it slipped out.

Saunders tied it up with a leadoff homer in the second as an 83 m.p.h. Dan Otero's change-up left his bat at an even 100 m.p.h., travelling 378 feet into the Jays bullpen while a jubilant Jason Grilli watched. It was the first homer of the series for the Blue Jays, snapping an 28-inning long-ball drought.

Toronto had slugged 10 homers in the wild-card game and ALDS.

Napoli went deep again to open the fourth, hammering a Stroman fastball 411 feet into centre field for a 2-1 lead. The ball left his bat at 109.5 m.p.h., the third-hardest hit HR of the post-season, according to MLB.com.

Ezequiel Carerra tripled to open the fifth and came home on a Ryan Goins groundout to tie it 2-2. But Kipnis restored Cleveland's lead with a solo homer to open the sixth.

A strikeout and Napoli walk later, Stroman's night was over. He gave up four runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks in a 94-pitch outing that featured 59 strikes. Joe Biagini came on and gave up another run after a wild pitch and Jose Ramirez RBI single for a 4-2 Cleveland lead.

The Jays had men on first and second in the seventh but veteran left-fielder Coco Crisp made a sliding catch off Josh Donaldson to end the threat.

A sellout of 49,507 packed the Rogers Centre, with the first “Let's Go Blue Jays” chant coming before first pitch.

With files from Gregory Strong and Dhiren Mahiban

LEADING OFF: Indians go for sweep; Cubs, Dodgers play Game 3

A look at what's happening all around the majors today:

ANOTHER SWEEP IN SIGHT

Unbeaten in six playoff games this year, the Indians can complete their second consecutive sweep with a victory at Toronto in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series. Cleveland is one win from its sixth trip to the World Series and first since 1997. Carried by a brilliant bullpen , the Indians have limited a dangerous Blue Jays lineup to three runs in three games.

ALL EVEN

With the Cubs and Dodgers tied at one game apiece, the best-of-seven NL Championship Series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3. Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner, starts for Chicago against lefty Rich Hill. Arrieta threw his first no-hitter at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30 last year in a game that began shortly after 5 p.m. local time, the same starting time as Tuesday. Shadows can creep between the mound and home plate at that hour, which Arrieta believes favours the pitchers. “I really think it can be difficult to pick up spin,” he said.

SHORT REST

Corey Kluber is scheduled to pitch a day earlier than planned for the Indians against the Blue Jays. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said he would move up Kluber to start on three days' rest if Trevor Bauer's sliced finger acted up in Game 3. Bauer was removed in the first inning Monday night after blood began dripping from his right pinkie. Kluber pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a Game 1 win at home last Friday. The 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner hasn't allowed a run in two starts and 13 1/3 innings during his first post-season. Aaron Sanchez starts for the Blue Jays. He was 15-2 with an AL-low 3.00 ERA this season.

LOOKING AHEAD

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias is scheduled to start Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. The team limited Urias' workload down the stretch - he has thrown only 10 2/3 innings since Sept. 3. But the young lefty from Mexico tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen to win Game 5 of the Division Series at Washington last Thursday after finishing 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA during the regular season. He is 5-0 with a 1.90 ERA since the All-Star break. Postseason pro John Lackey, who turns 38 on Sunday, pitches for the Cubs.

 

 

Ontario judge quashes bid to ban Cleveland baseball team's name, logo

TORONTO - An effort to ban the Cleveland Indians from using their full team name and logo when they played the Toronto Blue Jays was dismissed by an Ontario judge on Monday evening, just a few hours before the baseball teams met in a high-stakes playoff game.

Justice Thomas McEwen issued his ruling after lawyers for an indigenous activist sought to bar use of the American team's name and logo in Ontario, arguing they amounted to racial discrimination.

Indigenous activist and architect Douglas Cardinal had filed complaints to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commission on the matter, but pursued an injunction in a Toronto court before those cases were ruled on.

His lawyers had argued that the Cleveland team name and logo of “Chief Wahoo” - a grinning cartoon man with red skin and a feather in his headband - was a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canada's Human Rights Act.

“On behalf of Mr. Cardinal, we're disappointed that the court didn't grant the injunction,” said Michael Swinwood, a lawyer for Cardinal who was not involved in the legal arguments but spoke for his client.

“However, we look at it this way ... we believe that the awareness around this issue has now been elevated.”

Cardinal said in a statement Monday evening that he was “deeply disappointed” by the court's ruling.

“I hope that, one day, the Cleveland team's ownership will realize that its racist name and logo has got to go - entirely,” he said.

Lawyers who made legal arguments on Cardinal's behalf on Monday suggested the Cleveland team use spring training jerseys - which didn't have the full name and logo - during their games, while Rogers Communications, which broadcasts the games, could be ordered not to use the team logo on screens in the stadium where the Jays play.

They had also suggested that Rogers sportscasters could be directed not to use the team's full name during broadcasts and that Major League Baseball be ordered to allow the Cleveland team and Rogers to take those measures.

“You could not call a team the New York Jews. Why is it OK to call a team the Cleveland Indians,” Cardinal's lawyer Monique Jilesen said in court.

“Someone like Mr. Cardinal ought to be able to watch the game, like every other person in Canada, without suffering from racial discrimination.”

Jilesen noted that the urgency of the legal application was due to the number of fans that were expected to tune into the game in Toronto on Monday night. But she emphasized that the legal action did not seek to cancel the game or its broadcast, nor did it seek to stop fans from using the team name or logo.

“The game can go ahead, the team can play, there would be no loss of enjoyment for any viewers,” she said. “And indigenous people can watch, at a minimum, with a reduced amount of discriminatory iconography.”

A lawyer for the Cleveland team, however, had said the “inappropriate” request from Cardinal amounted to asking a court for censorship.

“What my friends are asking you ... is to reach down from your dais and censor words and images that Mr. Cardinal finds offensive,” said Jonathan Lisus.

“It is his right to be offended, but it is a very long leap from Mr. Cardinal's right to be offended to say that this court ... should determine that issue.”

A lawyer for Rogers noted that Cardinal is currently in China, where Rogers does not broadcast.

Kent Thomson also said that Cardinal's legal application, which was filed on Friday, initially suggested that all use of the Cleveland team's name and logo - including by fans in the stands - ought to be banned, but that wasn't ultimately the case.

“The result of this would be an injunction that would have such a minimal impact that it wouldn't come remotely close to satisfying the concerns Mr. Cardinal has in this case.”

He also noted that an injunction would only prevent Rogers from broadcasting the team's name and logo, while its competitors would still be able to continue using them.

A lawyer for Major League Baseball questioned why Cardinal was bringing his injunction while the Blue Jays were in the playoffs.

“He's been exposed to the logo and the name since 1977, so what's happened now to come to court on an emergency basis?” asked Markus Koehnen.

The Indians dropped Wahoo as their primary logo two years ago, switching to a block “C” and reduced the logo's visibility.

However, one of the caps the Indians wear at home has the “Wahoo” logo on its front and Cleveland's jerseys remain adorned with the Wahoo logo on one sleeve.

 

 

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