This Toronto-Cleveland series was a hell of a lot of baseball, and not only because it was five games for the price of four.
It had fantastic pitching and explosive offence, though not in the same game. It had a winning streak extended to 14 in a 19 inning game and then snapped before it extended to 15. It had three position players pitching. It had Canada Day fireworks in the form of ejections and yelling, inspired by some spectacularly bad umpiring. And it had a big ass flag.
Game one was notable because Carlos Carrasco struck out 14 Blue Jays, won the Indians 13th game in a row and R.A. Dickey continues to be snake bit in the Rogers Centre.
He pitched fine, really. Dickey pitched those quality innings but the Jays ran into Carrasco. Who, like all Cleveland pitchers during their record breaking win streak, was a buzz saw.
Game two was Canada Day. The celebratory feeling of the pre-game ceremonies was squelched early when homeplate umpire Vic Carapazza rung Josh Donaldson up on this
I know it's not supposed to matter who is at the plate, but to ring the MVP up on a pitch like that is dickish. It just is. It also set up the next series of events.
That dickish feeling was amplified when Carapazza rung Edwin Encarnacion up on a pitch that was well off the plate outside and then ejected him when Encarnacion protested. It was the first inning. When the game ended up going 19 innings of a 1-1 baseball, ejecting one of the top hitters in the game in the first inning had a huge influence on the game.
Carapazza had a terrible game, and the four hours of frustration became too much for Russell Martin, who got into it with Carapazza after being tossed in the 13th.
Jussell, six innings after he got tossed, had plenty to say post game. And much like the pictures above, his words were glorious.
The floating strike zone was frustrating to watch, so I can imagine it would be that much more frustrating to squat back there and witness it. Especially for 13 innings. Carapazza also removed his mask at one point to bark at Stroman, which was completely uncalled for. It's also notable that both Encarnacion and Martin were walking away when they were ejected. You were bad, Vic. Really, really bad. I might go as far to say you sucked personally.
Encarnacion has appealed his suspension for bumping Carapazza slightly ("initiating contact with the umpire" is the official description) and I would hope at some point there is some sort of review of the homeplate umpire's afternoon. No one knows what kind of review process there is for umpires within their governing body.
I like to imagine it involves robes, candles and ritual sacrifice.
Lost in this mess was Marcus Stroman's fantastic start, the exact right way to shut up all those people saying he should be sent to Buffalo. It was vintage Stroman shoving and it was great to see.
It went on so long it came to this: Ryan Goins makes his MLB pitching debut. I've never seen a position player pitch in a tight situation- normally one team is down a bunch and they don't want to burn an arm.
It was a 1-1 tie and the Jays were just out of arms.
That's right, Ryan Goins induced a 6-4-3 double play. Stroman was thrilled.
Game Three was started by Marco Estrada and his sore back.
Estrada toughed through five innings. His velocity was down and it appeared he couldn't really bend over. He did manage to have enough of his usual pixie dust to maintain the Indians.
Terry Francona had elected to pitch his Saturday starter, Trevor Bauer, in Friday's marathon and it was a start by committee. It was tied 6-6 when this happened.
Francona maintained that he didn't think there was enough evidence to overturn the call and the Cleveland broadcast was sure they saw Gimenez get the tag on Zeke's ankle.
I don't know what Francona's angle on his video was but I've watched it and while I admit my bias, I just don't see a tag.
And maybe when it comes to the Indians complaining about the umpiring, I just don't want to hear it. Go tell Vic about it, Tito
Game Four was when Francona's decision to extend his team's win streak on Friday came home to roost. How was this evident? The Jays scored 17 runs. It was an epic pounding.
This guy had a big game.
And so did this guy.
On his bobblehead day.
Happ completely dominated the Indians- it was a nice bookend to Carrasco's performance on Thursday that started the series.
This was a lot of baseball. Big plays mixed in with big emotions. High stakes and improvisation. It was exhausting. It felt like playoff baseball.
I once told Jordan Bastian, former Jays beat writer, now with the Indians, he needs to drive around blaring this.
Oh so, oh so fly cool as I wanna be, one hell of a guy