Estrada allowed just one run in 8 1/3 innings as the Blue Jays topped the Rangers 10-1 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. He had a chance at his first career shutout and complete game going into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Elvis Andrus reached on a leadoff triple to deep center field and Shin-Soo Choo drove him in with a ground out. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought the hook from there and Ryan Tepera recorded the final two outs in the lopsided victory.
Estrada gave up just four hits on the day while walking none and striking out six. Velocity is all the rage in baseball these days, but he gets it done with a high-80s fastball and a nasty changeup. According to Brooks Baseball, he induced eight swinging strikes in 21 swings against his changeup. Estrada now owns a 1.95 ERA and 21/1 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings over four postseason starts as a member of the Blue Jays.
After struggling down the stretch, Cole Hamels was rocked for seven runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings. The big blow was a sloppy five-run, 42-pitch third inning, which was highlighted by a bases-clearing triple off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki. Ian Desmond actually had a chance to make a play on the ball, but he pulled up just short of the center field wall.
Maybe Hamels had some bad breaks along the way, but his command was off. The veteran southpaw gave up seven hits in all (including Melvin Upton’s first postseason homer since 2008) and walked three. It was the shortest postseason start of his career and also his most runs allowed. If you include his final six regular season starts, he has walked 19 batters in his last 35 1/3 innings.
While Estrada was the story in Game 1, Bautista made his presence known by driving in four runs. He had an RBI single in the five-run third inning before providing the exclamation point on the blowout victory with a three-run homer off Jake Diekman in the ninth. Josh Donaldson reached base in all five of his plate appearances by going 4-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored.
Cleveland Gets Sweet Relief
The Red Sox were set up pretty well for Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday, as they were starting Cy Young contender Rick Porcello while Trevor Bauer was starting for the Indians because he was the best option available with Corey Kluber being held back for Game 2. It didn’t take long for any narrative to be rendered moot.
Porcello surrendered five runs in 4 1/3 innings and gave up three solo homers in the third inning as the Indians defeated the Red Sox 5-4 in Game 1 at Progressive Field. The Red Sox grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning when Andrew Benintendi homered in his first career postseason at-bat, but the Indians answered with solo blasts from Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor in the bottom of the frame. Kipnis and Lindor went back-to-back. Kipnis plated the decisive run of the game with an RBI single off Drew Pomeranz in the fifth inning.
Bauer lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, including a pair of solo homers. Terry Francona bucked convention from there by bringing in Andrew Miller, but the move paid off as the southpaw struck out four batters over two scoreless frames. Bryan Shaw gave up a leadoff solo homer to Brock Holt in the eighth to bring the Red Sox within one run, but Cody Allen took over from there and struck out four batters en route to his first five-out save of the season. Miller and Allen both threw 40 pitches in the victory, so Terry Francona's bullpen options could be limited for Game 2 on Friday.
Cespedes Expected to Opt Out
The Mets saw their season come to an end Wednesday night at the hands of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and while they are banking on improved health to get them back to the postseason in 2017, they could be missing a key cog from their lineup.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets “fully expect” outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to exercise the opt out in his contract after the World Series and test free agency. After waiting for a big deal last winter, he ultimately returned to New York in January on a three-year, $75 million contract. Cespedes still has two years and $47.5 million remaining on the contract, but he could easily land a lucrative deal this winter as a headliner of a weak class in regard to impact players.
Cespedes had his share of doubters after an amazing finish with the Mets last year, but he turned in a very comparable follow-up. Despite being bothered by a quad issue for most of the second half, he batted .280/.354/.530 with 31 homers and 86 RBI in 132 games. Thanks to improved patience at the plate, he put up a career-high .884 OPS.
It's smart business for Cespedes to opt out even if he wants to stay. He turns 31 years old in October, so he’s running out of chances for a major payday. Jay Bruce was an imperfect fit at the trade deadline and mostly struggled during his brief tenure in New York, but the Mets could view him as an insurance policy if Cespedes departs. Bruce’s contract includes a $13 million club option for 2017, which the Mets will almost certainly pick up. If Cespedes returns, the Mets could trade either Bruce or Curtis Granderson. Granderson has one year and $15 million remaining on his contract.
Quick Hits: Daniel Murphy (glute) said Thursday that he’s “confident” he’ll be ready to go for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers on Friday … Andrew Toles will start in left field for Game 1 of the NLDS against Max Scherzer and the Nationals … Eduardo Nunez (hamstring) will not be ready to start Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cubs on Friday, which means more chances for Wild Card game hero Conor Gillaspie … With Wilson Ramos (knee) done for the year and Jose Lobaton banged up, Pedro Severino will start behind the plate for the Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS … David Wright (neck) said Wednesday that he believes he’ll be ready for the start of spring training … According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Marlins have no plans to exercise Fernando Rodney’s $2 million option for 2017 … Michael Conforto said Thursday that he thinks it’s possible the Mets will discuss using him at first base next season … According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Royals are expected to decline their part of Edinson Volquez’s $10 million mutual option for 2017 … The Reds claimed Arismendy Alcantara off waivers from the Athletics … Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace has announced his retirement from full-time major league coaching …