ALCS Game 1 Recap: Cleveland 2, Blue Jays 0; Pitchers Shine and Bats Struggle as Jays Drop Opener

While the respective starter’s lines suggested a pitchers duel, this game was a story of missed opportunities for the Jays, and timely hits for Cleveland. One mistake for Marco Estrada ended up being the only one he could make, as the Jays ended up dropping the game 2-0.

Cleveland’s assumed ace, Corey Kluber, threw up zeroes for his entire outing, but wasn’t at his best for a lot of it. The Jays struggled hitting his great slider, as he flipped between baffling hitters and missing badly with it. The Jays threatened several times over the first few innings, but were unable to cash them in, stranding seven runners in his outing before he gave way to Andrew Miller.  Kluber’s final line with 6.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Most of those hits in the first 4 innings, where the Jays squandered several opportunities to score. Two pinch-hitters didn’t do much against Miller in the 7th or 8th, as he struck out five of the six hitters he faced, before Cody Allen closed it out without incident in the 9th.

Estrada had another great playoff start, keeping Cleveland mostly off the bases and away from trouble for the first five, matching Klubers zeroes with his own until the sixth. A Jason Kipnis single was followed up by a Francisco Lindor home run, opening the scoring for the home team. It was probably frustrating for Estrada, who’d been keeping Cleveland’s hitters off balance for the night, throwing strikes and mixing in his changeup well. His final line may have had more runs that Kluber’s, but he’d been more effective for the majority of the game. Such is baseball, however, and Marco finished with a complete game loss, notching 8 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. This was the first complete game by a Jays starter this season, though it didn’t matter much coming in a loss.

Top Play of the Game by WPA

The lone blemish on Estrada’s record tonight was also the most important play. After Jason Kipnis singled with one out in the 6th, Francisco Lindor hit a home run to right field on a 1-1 count, a fastball that Lindor drove into the seats. That dinger provided the lone offense of the evening, and had a WPA of .265.

Bottom Play of the Game by WPA

As if playing hurt wasn’t bad enough, Devon Travis was also responsible for the worst play of the game by WPA. The Jays had two runners on in the second inning, and Travis grounded into a double play, ending the inning and the threat. Snuffing out that rally had a WPA of -.091, and was one of several missed chances for the Jays in this one.

Laz Diaz Doesn’t Win Friends Or Influence People

Home plate umpire Laz Diaz had a strike zone that was perplexing, to put it mildly. A few of his more egregious misses:


It’s generally not a good sign when both teams have a beef, and they had reason to be, as Diaz’s zone morphed from inning to inning, alternately squeezing and extending his zone. The Jays were visibly frustrated later in the game, as both Melvin Upton and Edwin Encarnacion had long arguments with Diaz after getting rung up.

Travis Leaves the Game

Travis’ health was a hot topic coming into the series, and he was visibly affected by it, wincing on some plays, seeming slow to get to some balls. Struggling at the plate and in the field, he was replaced in the sixth inning by Ryan Goins.

Strikeouts and Stranded Runners

After a division series that was encouraging offensively, the first game of the ALCS was an unfortunate reminder of most of the season for Jays fans. With 12 strikeouts and 8 runners stranded, it was a frustrating game offensively. This was, however, against Cleveland’s best pitchers. Kluber is their ace, and Miller and Allen probably won’t combine for nearly 3 innings every game.

Up Next

It’s a quick turnaround before Game 2 of this series. J.A. Happ will start for the Jays, while Josh Tomlin counters for Cleveland. Happ won his start in the division series against the Rangers, weaving in and out of trouble over his 5 innings, allowing only 1 run despite giving up 9 hits and a walk. Tomlin was 0-1 in 2 starts against the Jays last year, and won his start in the ALDS as well against Boston.

Lead Photo: Ken Blaze – USA Today Sports

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