Cleveland 3, Toronto 0
When: 4:00 PM ET, Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
TORONTO – (Wire Service Report) – The Cleveland Indians tried somebody new Wednesday, but in the end, a couple of old reliables put them in the World Series after they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 to win the American League Championship Series in five games. The newcomer was Ryan Merritt, who was making his postseason debut in his fifth appearance and second start in the major leagues. He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
The familiar dependables were relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, who took care of the final 3 2/3 innings. Allen pitched the ninth to earn his fifth save of the postseason. Miller was named Most Valuable Player of the ALCS, recording 14 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, no walks and no runs.
“At this point in the year, you just find a way, that’s all that matters,” Miller said. “It’s about winning. As I said earlier, I would have given up 100 runs if we won 101-100.”
Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp provided solo home runs for the Indians, who will play either the Chicago Cubs or the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series starting Tuesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
“We just got beat in this series, plain and simple,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Merritt allowed two hits and no walks while striking out three before being replaced by Bryan Shaw (2-0) in the fifth.
“He did a great job,” Gibbons said of Merritt, a 24-year-old left-hander. “He came out there, I thought from the get-go, and looked comfortable, confident. He picked the play apart pretty good. I thought he was pretty much living on the edges, from my angle.”
Indians manager Terry Francona said, “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that watching Ryan Merritt go out and do what he did, the only person that really got in his way was me. And I thought that he had gotten us to a point where the bullpen could take over. But what he did was above and beyond his years.”
Toronto starter Marco Estrada (0-2) allowed five hits, including the two solo home runs, and three runs (two earned) in six innings. The right-hander struck out seven. It was the second consecutive year that Toronto lost in the ALCS.
“To stay on top or get close to the top, I mean, it takes a lot,” Gibbons said.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out single by Francisco Lindor, who had three hits in the game, and a double by Mike Napoli. Left fielder Ezequiel Carrera was charged with an error when he mishandled Napoli’s hit on the carom off the wall.
Santana belted his second homer of the postseason with one out in the third. Meanwhile, Merritt needed only 31 pitches in setting down nine straight hitters over the first three innings. Overall, he threw 49 pitches — 33 for strikes.
“I was definitely nervous the first inning, but I definitely got confidence after getting through the first inning,” Merritt said.