Thursday began the American League Division Series. It started in Arlington, as Texas (the AL West champs) hosted Toronto (the AL Wild Card winner).
Game 1 was over pretty quick, as the Blue Jays got to Rangers ace Cole Hamels the second time through the order. It was his worst start in the postseason (16 starts). He allowed five runs in the third (four hits and two walks) and was chased from the game in the fourth after allowing two more runs.
After that, lefty Alex Claudio shut down the Blue Jays, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings (more innings pitched than Hamels). I had the chance to see Claudio back in 2014 when he was an All-Star with Myrtle Beach and he was in the big leagues by August of that same year.
The Blue Jays tacked on three more in the ninth against lefty reliever Jake Diekman, all on a home run from Jose Bautista (the lone former Royal on Toronto). He went 2-for-4 with four RBIs.
The story was Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, who held the Rangers scoreless until the 9th inning. He allowed just four hits over 8.1 innings with six strikeouts. Estrada threw just 98 pitches.
The Rangers have two former Royals on their playoff roster. One is outfielder Carlos Beltran, who has been a postseason hero throughout his career. As the DH on Thursday, Beltran went 1-for-3. The other, reliever Jeremy Jeffress, did not pitch. Jeffress seemed to get his life back together when he went back to Milwaukee, but was arrested for DWI right after being traded to Texas (and then went into rehab and did not return until the end of September).
It is a quick turnaround, as Game 2 is Friday afternoon with Yu Darvish getting the start for the Rangers. JA Happ starts for Toronto.
In the night game, Cleveland (the AL Central champs) hosted Boston (the AL East champs) in their ALDS opener. The Red Sox do not have any former Royals (though former pitcher Brian Bannister works with the team) and the Indians have just one (though catcher Adam Moore was a September callup).
That would be starting left fielder Coco Crisp, who the Indians acquired from Oakland at the end of August. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and was replaced on defense in the ninth.
With the tying run on first base, two outs, and a 3-2 count in the ninth, Dustin Pedroia was called out on strikes on a check swing to end the game. The Indians held on for the 5-4 victory.
The ball was flying out of Progressive Field, as the two teams combined for six home runs. The Indians hit three in the 3rd inning: one by nine-hole hitter Roberto Perez to tie the game (after the Red Sox retook the 2-1 lead on rookie Andrew Benintendi solo homer), two batters later Jason Kipnis homered, and shortstop Francisco Lindor followed with a homer.
The two teams will be back at it tomorrow afternoon from Cleveland, with the Indians starting ace Corey Kluber and the Red Sox throwing David Price. How will Kluber pitch after suffering the groin injury in his last start and how long can he go? Indians manager Terry Francona used Andrew Miller for two innings (40 pitches), Bryan Shaw for 2/3 of an inning (13 pitches), and closer Cody Allen for 1.2 innings (40 pitches).