4 ingredients for a Blue Jays comeback
Need three straight wins to advance to World Series
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are feeling a sense of deja vu as they deal with yet another do-or-die scenario that will require three consecutive wins to survive.
Toronto was down 0-2 to Texas in the American League Division Series, and the club will have to defy the odds once again in order to keep the season alive in the American League Championship Series after a 14-2 loss in Game 4 on Tuesday. It certainly won't be easy, but the Blue Jays can at least take some solace in the fact they've survived this before and very well could do it all over again.
The Blue Jays will continue their best-of-seven ALCS against the Royals with Game 5 on Wednesday (3 p.m. ET air time on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, with game time slated for 4 p.m.). Here are four ingredients for a Toronto comeback despite being down 3-1.
1. Use the experience
The Blue Jays were essentially counted out of the ALDS after losing their first two games to the Rangers. They looked awful in those opening two games, but saved their best baseball for when their backs were against the wall. Toronto became the third team in the history of the Division Series to rally from an 0-2 deficit after losing the first two games at home.
The odds they now must overcome are these: In the history of seven-game series, teams that have fallen behind 3-1 have come back to win just 12 of 83.
"I don't feel like going home yet, so might as well win three in a row and get to the World Series," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.
2. Estrada magic
When the Blue Jays went down 0-2 to the Rangers, it was Marco Estrada who took the mound in Game 3, and he came through with one of the best performances of his life. Toronto won the game, 5-1, but the final score overshadows how little margin for error Estrada had. It was scoreless after two, and until the sixth inning, the Blue Jays were clinging to a 2-0 lead.
If Estrada can extend the series, Toronto would then have No. 1 starter David Price for Game 6 and Marcus Stroman for Game 7. It's actually a better situation than the Texas series when it was Estrada followed by R.A. Dickey and Stroman.
"I'm trying to take every game just like I did during the season," said Estrada, who has allowed more than three earned runs once since the end of July. "I was successful then, why change anything? I have the same mindset going into this next one, and I'm trying to keep it the same."
3. Ignore momentum
The 14-2 blowout in Game 4 looks devastating and comes with the risk of a carryover effect, but in the eight times this season Toronto allowed double-digit runs, it went 6-2 the following game.
"I think I probably believe momentum during the game, in one particular game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Game to game is different. And really, you guys have all heard before, it really starts on the mound. You can be on a nice little roll and you run into a hot pitcher that's pitching a great ballgame, he can really shut you down."
4. Find their swing -- again
This may sound like a broken record by now, but the reason the Blue Jays are in the ALCS is because of their offense. They led the league in runs, and a lineup that contains Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki can never be completely counted out.
Toronto averaged 3.5 runs in the first two games against Texas and then responded with an average of 6.3 the rest of the way. It was a drastic increase, and if the bats get hot, then they can easily swing themselves back into this series.
"You have to be able to turn the page, go out there and play the way we played all year," Donaldson said. "Which is good defense, pitch well and hit better."