Plenty of ties between Blue Jays, Tribe in ALCS

October 12th, 2016
Rajai Davis (left) and Ezequiel Carrera will face one of their former teams in the ALCS. (Getty Images)

TORONTO -- A lot of the talk entering the American League Championship Series, which starts on Friday at Progressive Field (8 p.m. ET on TBS in the U.S., as well as Sportsnet and RDS in Canada), has centered around the similarities between the front offices of the Blue Jays and the Indians. But the connection between these two organizations runs a lot deeper than that.

Toronto team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins facing their former club is just one part of the story. There's also a Hall of Famer who starred for each of these teams, some historical moments that each fan base relishes and a pair of starting outfielders who used to call the other city home.

:: ALCS: Blue Jays vs. Indians coverage ::

Here's a look at four things that Toronto and Cleveland have in common:

1. The faces of the franchise

When people think about the glory years of the Blue Jays, there are two names that immediately come to mind: Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. They were the faces of the franchise during the 1992-93 World Series runs, and they hit two of the most iconic homers in the organization's history: Carter with the walk-off homer in Game 6 of the '93 World Series and Alomar off Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in the '92 ALCS.

Cleveland also has fond memories of the two. Carter played for the Indians from 1984-89, and he hit 151 homers and 530 RBIs over those six years before he was traded to San Diego for Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga and Chris James in December 1989. Alomar is the only current Hall of Famer who went in a Blue Jay, but three of his best years came with the Tribe from 1999-2001. He was named to the AL All-Star team each of the three seasons and finished in the top five in voting for the AL MVP Award twice.

Castrovince: Clubs connected through Carter

After being traded for Carter, Roberto's older brother, Sandy, went on to spend 11 years in the Indians' organization. He won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1990, made six All-Star teams and later got to spend two years with his brother in Cleveland from '99-2000. Their father, Sandy Alomar Sr., often participates in amateur youth baseball camps that the Blue Jays schedule throughout Canada.

2. Stellar starters

Dave Stieb was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game during the 1980s. He was one out away from a perfect game or a no-hitter three times over the span of two years from 1988-89, but Stieb was unable to seal the deal. Well, in Cleveland, he finally did. The Indians broke up one of his previous bids in '88 when Julio Franco hit a grounder to second that took a high hop over the head of second baseman Manny Lee with two outs in the ninth. Stieb got his revenge on Sept. 2, 1990, at the old Cleveland Stadium with what still stands as the only no-hitter in Toronto franchise history.

One of the Indians' biggest individual pitching performances occurred against the Blue Jays. Len Barker threw a perfect game on May 15, 1981, which also happens to be the last time a Tribe pitcher tossed a no-hitter. Barker did not reach a three-ball count during the game and struck out 11, including seven of the last 11 batters. It was the 10th perfect game in MLB history, and it ended when he got Ernie Whitt to fly out in the ninth inning.

3. The outfielders

and figure to have prominent roles in this series, and they'll both be doing it against one of their former teams. Davis was a fan favorite during his three years in Toronto from 2011-13, while Carrera broke into the league with the Indians in '11 and later spent a brief stint with the club in '13.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona uses Davis in a pseudo-platoon role by starting him against lefties and occasionally versus righties when the matchups are favorable. Carrera came off Toronto's bench for most of the year, but he won a starting job in mid-September and has since become the sparkplug at the top of the Blue Jays' lineup.

4. Beyond the obvious

Shapiro and Atkins have deep Cleveland roots, but they aren't the only members of Toronto's front office with a connection to the Indians. Executive vice president of business operations Andrew Miller was one of the main people responsible for the recent renovations at Progressive Field, and now he's in charge of similar upgrades at Rogers Centre.

Castrovince: Front office pals square off

Blue Jays vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington got his start with the Indians as an advance scout. Injured catcher made his big league debut in Toronto but was traded to Cleveland as part of a deal for right-hander prior to 2013. Former Blue Jays manager and current Red Sox skipper John Farrell was the director of player development under Shapiro with the Indians before he pursued a coaching career.