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Playoff Gameday Thread, #6: Woe, Canada...

The first elimination game of the NLDS sees the Blue Jays try and avoid getting the bum's rush out of the post-season.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
1:10pm, MLB Network. Game 3: Series tied 1-1
Edinson Volquez
RHP, 13-9, 3.55
Dallas Keuchel
LHP, 20-8, 2.48
Alcides Escobar - SS Jose Altuve - 2B
Ben Zobrist - 2B George Springer - RF
Lorenzo Cain - CF Carlos Correa - SS
Eric Hosmer - 1B Colby Rasmus - LF
Kendrys Morales - DH Evan Gattis - DH
Mike Moustakas - 3B Carlos Gomez - CF
Salvador Perez - C Luis Valbuena - 3B
Alex Gordon - LF Chris Carter - 1B
Alex Rios - RF Jason Castro - C

The Royals have it tough if they are going to take a crucial edge in this swing game, because Keuchel has literally been unbeatable at home this year. He's an unprecedented 15-0 at Minute Maid Park, with a 1.46 ERA there this season. And in the three games he didn't win, Keuchel probably should have, as he got a total of six runs of support, with an ERA of 2.14. The likely AL Cy Young is a poster boy for not writing off young pitchers who struggle. Through age 25, he was 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA, with a mediocre K:BB of 161:91. Since then? 32-17, 2.69 ERA and a 362:99 strikeout to walk ratio. Here's hoping we get something similar from a couple of our young pitchers.

It's kinda funny to see the Royals in the role of incumbents, defending their post-season hopes against a raw, fresh young incumbent. Last season, Kansas City were the ones who wild-carded their way into the playoffs after some dark days for the franchise; this year, the Astros occupy that role, enjoying their first post-season baseball in a decade. But between Keuchel and Fortress Houston, where the Astros have been very, very good, I think it's going to be too touch for the Royals to pull off. There may not be much in what should be a low-scoring game, but I'd say Houston will ensure I don't get to use an Apollo 13 quote in tomorrow's preview.

5:10pm, FS1. Game 3: Texas leads 2-0
Marco Estrada
RHP, 13-8, 3.13
Martin Perez
LHP, 3-6, 4.46
Ben Revere - LF Delino DeShields Jr. - CF
Josh Donaldson - 3B Shin-Soo Choo - RF
Jose Bautista - RF Prince Fielder - DH
Edwin Encarnacion - DH Mitch Moreland - 1B
Chris Colabello - 1B Elvis Andrus - SS
Troy Tulowitzki - SS Josh Hamilton - LF
Dioner Navarro - C Rougned Odor - 2B
Kevin Pillar - CF Robinson Chirinos - C
Ryan Goins - 2B Hanser Alberto - 3B
Marco Estrada - RHP Martin Perez - LHP

The Blue Jays are still looking for their first post-season victory since 1993, having been swept out of Toronto in the first two games. The reason is clear: their nuclear-capable offense was replaced by a damp squib there, with the Blue Jays batting .171/.209/.293, and scoring only seven runs over 23 innings of play.. The resulting OPS of .502 is almost three hundred points of OPS below the .797 figure put up by their post-season roster during the regular season. If Toronto are to come back from the resulting precipice, that needs to change, and change quickly - probably starting with Troy Tulowitzki, who is 0-for-10 with no walks and four strikeouts so far.

If the series is not yet technically over, it would take a very brave man to bet against the Rangers at this point. Teams who win the first two games in a division series have, for obvious reasons, almost always progressed, possessing a 42-5 record in those series. Not that Texas's hitters are the reason they are here, with an OPS not much better than the Blue Jays, at 5.71. It's much more to do with the sub-two ERA of their pitching staff, and in particular their bullpen, who have allowed one run over 11 innings, on four hits and two walks with a dozen strikeouts. One more performance like that and Texas should be taking much of the week off, until the ALCS begins on Friday