TORONTO -- It's the kind of noise that can rattle nerves and buckle knees. It just might test your poise, if not your resolve. In short, this might be exactly what the Toronto Blue Jays need.If Rogers Centre isn't the rowdiest place in baseball, it's on the short list. It's
TORONTO -- It's the kind of noise that can rattle nerves and buckle knees. It just might test your poise, if not your resolve. In short, this might be exactly what the Toronto Blue Jays need.
If Rogers Centre isn't the rowdiest place in baseball, it's on the short list. It's also a huge reason the Blue Jays love it and thrive in its environment.
• ALCS Game 3: tonight at 8 ET on TBS/Sportsnet/RDS
Intimidating for opponents? Toronto hopes so.
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"It's the best feeling in the world to come out of that dugout before the game, and they're on their feet to give you the encouragement you need," Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar said.
Toronto is in an 0-2 hole against the Cleveland Indians as the American League Championship Series shifts to Rogers Centre for Game 3.
The Blue Jays scored one run and batted .159 in 18 innings in Cleveland on the way to 2-0 and 2-1 losses. If that sounds like a team in a slump, it might be more complicated than that.
The Indians have gotten 18 innings of extraordinary pitching -- including 25 strikeouts and just four walks -- from starters Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin in front of Andrew Miller and a nearly unhittable bullpen.
Both teams know that each postseason game seems to have a life of its own, with innings turning into a war of wills as teams become more familiar with one another.
The Blue Jays rolled into this ALCS after hammering 10 home runs in four postseason contests, all victories. They did not go cold all at once. As third baseman Josh Donaldson said, "One thing we know is we're pretty good at hitting the baseball."
So Toronto hopes to ride its track record and the energy of 50,000 fans against Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer to get the series back into a manageable place.
"Everything you might be dealing with personally or physically, when you step foot on that field and have 50,000 people here to watch you play and support you, you just feed off that energy," Pillar said. "It makes it easy to forget about that hamstring that might be a little sore or your back that's a little tight."
This is why Blue Jays manager John Gibbons isn't calling a team meeting or shaking up his lineup. His team got to this point playing a certain way. This is who Toronto is. This will be its home-field advantage, too, for Games 3, 4 and 5.
"It's a loud crowd," Gibbons said. "It's a young crowd, and they get into it. It would be nice to give them something to cheer about, that's for sure."
The Blue Jays have been reborn over the past 24 months as management aggressively overhauled the roster to acquire stars such as Donaldson, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and catcher Russell Martin.
They've meshed nicely with a slew of homegrown players, beginning with Pillar and pitchers Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna and Game 3 starter Marcus Stroman. Back-to-back postseason appearances have helped create a magical feel at times at Rogers Centre.
Toronto is 73-46 at home since the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2015, as both television ratings and attendance soared. The club led the AL in attendance, averaging almost 42,000 per game. Television ratings reflect an entire country's engagement in its baseball team.
"Listen, 4.7 million people watched our [AL Wild Card] Game," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said. "Over 10 million at some point turned that game on. Think about that. That's around 10 percent of the country. That's an incredible number.
"It creates a tangible measurement of what it means to have a national fanbase. It is a reflection of the depth and vibrance of the Toronto market in general."
When the Blue Jays were eliminated by the Kansas City Royals in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS, they said the experience might propel them even further in '16.
Cleveland is standing in the way of that next step, but Toronto remains confident about who it is and what it is capable of.
"It's hard to tell whether we have a win or loss the next day in this clubhouse," Stroman said. "We truly turn the page. We know what we're capable of. It's an extremely confident, unique different group we have."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U.