TORONTO -- After losing the first two games of the American League Championship Series to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field over the weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays returned home to Rogers Centre in need of at least two victories to send the series back to Northeast Ohio.
But despite being down, 0-2, to the Indians and two losses from elimination, the Blue Jays are not feeling any pressure. In fact, Game 3 starter Marcus Stroman welcomes the challenges that come with playing in the postseason.
“The mood of the team, it's pretty much the same,” Stroman said. “The mentality and confidence, we probably have had the same mentality we had Opening Day. It hasn't changed once. It's hard to tell whether we have a win or loss the next day in this clubhouse.
“We truly turn the page. We know what we're capable of. It's an extremely confident, unique different group we have. We love it. I love every, single guy on this team. It's a true family. That's how we approach each and every game. We play for each other, and that's kind of the mentality we have.”
Like Stroman, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not sense any worry from his club after they lost the first two games in Cleveland, not especially considering last year, when they were in a similar situation and still found a way to force the ALCS back to Kansas City before being eliminated.
To Stroman, the postseason is an opportunity for players to rise up to the challenges of competing on a bigger stage with more on the line than most any game in the regular season.
“I think that's why you play the game,” Stroman said. “I think that's why you get up at 6 a.m. to work out. That's why you do two-a-days, to be in this moment, to be in this time. It just excites me, walking out there in front of the home crowd, hearing them, just kind of gives me a lot more enthusiasm and confidence kind of going into it.”
Over 25.1 innings of work in four postseason games, Stroman has a 3.91 earned run average with a 1.18 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched), but never before has he pitched in the playoffs with 13 days of rest, as he will when he takes the field at Rogers Centre tonight.
“Doesn't change my mindset at all,” Stroman said. “It's the playoffs. I think that kind of takes care of itself. I'll be locked in regardless of how many days it is in-between starts. I feel like I have a very good routine, and I'm able to prepare my body to throw on how many days rest regardless. I don't think it's going to be a factor at all, nor is it an excuse. I feel just as good as if it was my normal five days, so I'll be ready to go.”