Circumstances have transpired to put the Toronto Blue Jays on the brink of postseason elimination. But that hasn’t exactly quieted their chirping.
The Blue Jays trail the Cleveland Indians three games to one in the American League Championship Series entering Wednesday’s Game 5 at Rogers Centre. But there are a couple of reasons for optimism in Toronto: The Jays earned a convincing 6-0 win Tuesday afternoon and now get to face Indians rookie pitcher Ryan Merritt in Game 5.
There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard of Merritt: The 24-year-old has pitched just 11 innings in his major league career (none in the postseason). But manager Terry Francona decided to roll with the unheralded rookie after Trevor Bauer’s freak drone accident put his pitching staff in a bind.
Apparently the Blue Jays are pretty confident in facing the young left-hander, because outfielder Jose Bautista felt emboldened enough to drop this line after Tuesday’s game, via MLB.com:
“With our experience in our lineup, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be shaking in his boots more than we are.”
That’s a pretty strong statement from a guy whose team is down 3-1 in the ALCS, especially considering Bautista was 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts in the ALCS entering Wednesday and already has made some questionable comments in this series.
Baseball players thrive on confidence, though, and maybe Bautista was trying to plant some self-doubt in Merritt ahead of the biggest start of his baseball career. But you’d better believe Merritt and the Indians are using Bautista’s comments as bulletin board material, and if his brashness backfires, it will mean the end of Toronto’s season.
Thumbnail photo via Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports Images