Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays X-factors that could change the game in ALCS opener

Craig Borden
Oct 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning run to defeat the Texas Rangers in the 10th inning of game three of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning run to defeat the Texas Rangers in the 10th inning of game three of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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ALCS Game 1 is upon us and the Toronto Blue Jays will go toe-to-toe with the Cleveland Indians. In this article we look to point out some factors that could contribute to a Blue Jays win.

Who has the momentum?

Looking at this series both teams have had a long sit after having such a thunderous ALDS.  Many would think that this category might belong to Cleveland as they have home field advantage to start the series.  This could prove to be a non-factor as the Jays stormed into Texas and messed that up during the first two games of the ALDS.  The Blue Jays have been road warriors the for the past seven games if you include the games in Boston that clinched the Wild Card.  In that stretch the Blue Jays have been fighting for their lives and have come out on top each time.  The Blue Jays faithful also travel well and their should be plenty of Jays jerseys in the stands.  Cleveland is a small 3.5 hour drive down I-90 from Niagara Falls on the Canadian boarder, right?

Mr. Intensity, Marco Estrada

The continually underrated Marco Estrada will likely get looked over in this year’s Cy Young ta;l but is worthy of the conversation.  His 9-9 record does not turn many heads but his .203 opposing batting average should.  Estrada has been one of the better pitchers for the Jays this season.  That .203 batting average is the 2nd lowest in team history and he has done that two seasons in a row.  If you are wondering who the leader for a single season was, it was Roger Clemens in 1998 with a .197 mark.  Estrada will look to continue to his excellent postseason performance against Cleveland tonight.

Toronto digs the long ball

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The Blue Jays bats have came alive at the right time.  The homers have been pouring out as the Jays ran through the O’s and Rangers.  In four games this postseason the Jays have muscled out 10 home runs by seven different players.  Just to put that in perspective, there have only been 12 players to take plate appearances in those four games.  That is 58% of the lineup with at least one home run in these playoffs.  Leading the way for the resurgent Mt. Crushmore has been Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.  Encarnacion hit arguably one of the biggest home runs in Blue Jays history (no argument on which one was the biggest <cough> Joe Carter).  The biggest Edwing of all time propelled the Jays into the ALDS as they steamrolled the Rangers.  If the power surge continues, there will be little competition.

Osuna-Matata means no worries

Roberto Osuna has been solid this postseason.  A shocking moment scared Jays fans as he was removed from the Wild Card game with a shoulder issue, though.  Osuna made comments that he was just tired, but Jays fans were still on edge.  As they prayed for their star closer to be okay, Osuna proved he was fine.  In the ALDS he pitched 3.2 innings total of high-stress ball.  Osuna allowed just one hit during those innings and struck out four.  He appears to be fine and now has had some extended rest.  This could mean Osuna-Matata means game over for Cleveland.

The wheels of Dalton Pompey

The added luxury of having a stolen base artist on your roster at this time of year could be the difference between a late comeback or heading home.  Pompey was not included on the ALDS roster, but last year he made his presence known.  In five games he stole four bases and got a hit in his only at bat.  Many people forget that the ALCS ended last season with Pompey standing 90 feet away from home plate.  He got there by stealing two bases in a row when the pitchers knew he was going to steal.  That is a crazy level of talent to steal a base when everyone in the ballpark knows that you are going to do it.  Look for Pompey to join the game in a late, high pressure situation.

Next: Can Estrada repeat? - Pitching preview Game 1

Join in the conversation what do you think could impact Game 1 for the Blue Jays?
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