Three Keys for Blue Jays to win ALDS

Three Keys for Blue Jays to win ALDS

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays are down, but they're not out. For a team that pulled off a pair of 11-game winning streaks this season, taking the next three from Texas is not an impossible task.

Toronto heads into tonight's Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet) trailing 2-0 in the American League Division Series to Texas. Here are three keys to the Blue Jays staying alive to fight another day:

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Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 TEX 5, TOR 3
Gm 2 Oct. 9 TEX 6, TOR 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 TOR 5, TEX 1
Gm 4 Oct. 12 TOR 8, TEX 4
Gm 5 Oct. 14 TOR 6, TEX 3

1. The offense needs to step up
The Blue Jays have been winning games all year with their powerful lineup, and that trend will have to continue if they are going to have any shot at coming back in this series. Toronto averaged 5.5 runs per game during the regular season, but in two games against Texas, the club has managed to score a total of seven.

One cause for optimism is that Toronto will face left-hander Martin Perez in Game 3, and then the squad has the possibility of facing two more lefties in Derek Holland and Cole Hamels in Games 4 and 5. The Blue Jays had an .818 OPS against southpaws this season with 52 homers, 195 runs and 145 walks in 1,243 at-bats.

2. The unsung hero
Manager John Gibbons said a couple of weeks ago that he felt right-hander Marco Estrada saved the Blue Jays season with his performance in the starting rotation. Estrada will now be responsible for attempting to save the postseason as well with his Game 3 start.

Estrada limited opposing hitters to a .203 average this season, which was the best in the AL. He also posted a 3.13 ERA, and a sparkling 1.04 WHIP in 34 games this season. The one problem Estrada had was keeping the ball in the yard with 24 home runs allowed this year, and he'll need to limit that in Game 3 to give his team a chance.

3. Filling the void
Toronto's bullpen was dealt a serious blow when left-hander Brett Cecil tore his left calf muscle in Game 2. Cecil is out for the rest of the year, and now the Blue Jays will have to figure out how to survive without him.

Aaron Loup will step into a more prominent role, but as the lone left-hander remaining in the bullpen, the Blue Jays will need some quality innings from their right-handed relievers, as well. Roberto Osuna is the undisputed closer, but setup men Aaron Sanchez, Mark Lowe, and possibly Liam Hendriks or LaTroy Hawkins will be called upon to pitch in some very high-leverage situations if Toronto has the lead late in Game 3.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.