A look at what’s happening all around the majors Sunday:
ARMED AND READY
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw starts Game 2 of the NL Championship Series against the Cubs after pitching in all three Division Series wins versus Washington. That included a two-out save in the decisive Game 5 on Thursday night, two days after he threw 110 pitches in Game 4 on short rest.
“I feel fine,” Kershaw said Saturday . “I feel good. I’m excited. It’s been a little bit since we got to do this, and Wrigley Field, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t faced Chicago this year. He is 3-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 career playoff games, including 12 starts.
Kershaw’s mound opponent, Kyle Hendricks, also was a bit of a question mark before the Cubs committed to starting him in Game 2. Hendricks left his Division Series start against San Francisco after taking a line drive off his right forearm but felt fine after a bullpen session Thursday. The right-hander went 16-8 with a major league-best 2.13 ERA this season.
It’s a day off in the AL Championship Series as the teams head to Toronto after Cleveland won a pair of low-scoring games at home. Trevor Bauer is supposed to pitch Game 3 for the Indians on Monday night, though his scheduled start isn’t as concrete as they might like. The right-hander was pushed back from Saturday’s Game 2 after cutting his right pinkie Thursday while repairing one of the drones he enjoys flying as a hobby. And although Bauer has thrown twice since, manager Terry Francona is concerned about the wound opening during the game. The cut required 11 stitches, and the Indians hope it will be sufficiently healed by Monday.
“We just have to make sure that that thing doesn’t open up where it’s bleeding, because then they won’t let him pitch,” Francona said. “It needs to close. So, while he’s doing his throwing and things, he needs to make sure he keeps this thing not aggravated or pulling the stitches away. So far, he’s done a good job. The thing is healing nice.”
HOME SWEET HOME
Toronto’s meaty lineup loaded with power hitters managed only one run in the first two games of the ALCS. Maybe going home to Canada will help the Blue Jays, who went 46-35 at the rocking Rogers Centre and drew an AL-high 3.4 million fans during the regular season. Cleveland players know they’re heading into one of the game’s most hostile home environments.
“It’s hockey fans and I mean that in the best way because I’m a hockey fan, too,” said Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, a die-hard Chicago Blackhawks fan. “They’re intense. They stand up for most of the entire game and they’re always into it, rallying their team.”
Celebrity support has been plentiful in the playoffs, with some well-known faces getting nearly as much airtime as the players. At Wrigley Field, actor Bill Murray and his Jimmy John’s cap have become a fixture. In Cleveland, LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers have been among the Indians’ rowdiest supporters. When the NLCS heads to Los Angeles, expect to see Larry King behind home plate. And although he hasn’t made it to the ballpark, 87-year-old comedian Bob Newhart has shown he’s eager to #FlyTheW.