Blue Jays need homers when they get home

After hitting eight long balls in ALDS, Toronto has none in ALCS

Blue Jays need homers when they get home

CLEVELAND -- Few predicted that the Blue Jays' power would be commanded so thoroughly in the first 18 innings of the American League Championship Series, but once it was, the end result wasn't all that surprising. When Toronto doesn't hit homers, it usually doesn't win.

The Blue Jays have been limited to one run thus far in the ALCS, with the Indians posting a 2-1 victory in Saturday's Game 2, and their quickest fix in this best-of-seven series would be to jack a few balls over the wall when the series moves to Toronto on Monday. Easier said than done, but the Jays were 80-39 when hitting at least one homer this season, compared with 9-34 when it didn't.

ALCS Game 3: Monday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS/Sportsnet/RDS

"Well, if that's the case, we'll have to hit homers to win," said Josh Donaldson, who has Toronto's only ALCS RBI thus far. "I guess that's the case. We scored a run today and didn't hit a homer. The fact of the matter is, I think we just need to do a better job of having a better plan and approach, and I think we will."

Donaldson's RBI double

One day after they missed several chances to break through against Corey Kluber, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and leaving eight men on, the Blue Jays repeatedly pounded the ball into the dirt against Josh Tomlin's effective soft-tossing mix.

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 14 CLE 2, TOR 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 15 CLE 2, TOR 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 17 CLE 4, TOR 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 18 TOR 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 5 Oct. 19 CLE 3, TOR 0 video

"I wouldn't dare take anything from them, that's for sure," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Kluber last night, one of the top guys in the game. And Tomlin, he's right up there [with] the top command guys in baseball. And we faced him earlier in the year, same stuff, picking his spots. He used his breaking ball a lot tonight. It was very effective."

Donaldson's double in the third inning put the Blue Jays on the board, but Tomlin permitted just three hits in 5 2/3 innings. All told, Cleveland hurlers recorded 13 strikeouts in Game 2 -- five by Andrew Miller in a two-inning span -- as they once again silenced Toronto's all-or-nothing order.

Building up a starter's pitch count is typically a good thing, but this crop of relievers might have the Blue Jays rethinking that strategy.

"Ideally, in a playoff series, that's what you try to do -- get on top of your opponent and let the bullpen go to work," Troy Tulowitzki said. "They've been able to do that on us these first two games. This bullpen is really good, we know that. Everybody knows that. We've got to try to find a way to score against them."

With Toronto unwilling participants as Miller made postseason history, becoming the first pitcher to strike out at least five batters on consecutive days, catcher Russell Martin said that he believes the advantage is due to swing in the hitters' favor.

Donaldson on offense

"He's a tough at-bat, but the more you see a guy, the more the advantage goes to the hitter," Martin said. "We've seen him twice already. Hopefully, that allows us to have better at-bats next time.

A situation like this might have been talked about when the Blue Jays scored an AL-worst 100 runs in September, but that concern was washed away in the AL Division Series, when they hit eight long balls in three games.

"We've been in worse situations before, and we know how to come back," Edwin Encarnacion said. "We've got to start thinking about Monday, and we have three games at home. We know how to do it."

Wholesale lineup changes for Game 3 are unlikely, though Gibbons shuffled the deck slightly in Game 2, bumping Tulowitzki to No. 5 while hitting Martin sixth. Martin rewarded his manager by singling in his first at-bat, showing signs of breaking out of a 1-for-20 postseason slump.

"History shows that we can hit the baseball," Martin said. "It definitely would be nice to start doing that."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.