The Cleveland Indians are now one win away from the World Series, as they won Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto, 4-2. The Indians have not trailed in this series nor have they lost yet this postseason.
Many have not given the Indians bullpen credit, but they earned it tonight.
Starter Trevor Bauer was pulled with two on and two outs in the bottom of the first because the stitches on his pinky finger opened up and he was bleeding all over. That forced manager Terry Francona to go to his bullpen and piece together the game. They did exactly that.
Dan Otero came on first and induced a ground out to escape the 1st inning. In the second, Otero allowed a leadoff home run to Michael Saunders that tied the game, but escaped with two ground outs (one was an inning ending double play).
Next up was Jeff Manship to make his postseason debut. He had not pitched since October 1st. He allowed a sharp single to lead off the 3rd inning by former KC Royal Jose Bautista, but then got three pop ups on the infield on nine pitches. Manship struck out Russell Martin to start the fourth and was then pulled in favor of Zach McAllister, who was also making his postseason debut (he had not pitched since September 28th in a start).
McAllister threw just seven pitches to get out of the 4th inning, but then allowed a leadoff triple to Zeke Carrera in the fifth. Ryan Goins followed with an RBI ground out that McAllister just missed to tie the game at 2-2.
Up next was Bryan Shaw, who allowed a single to Josh Donaldson around two outs. Shaw then struck out two of the three batters he faced to finish off the Blue Jays in the sixth. Shaw allowed a leadoff single in the seventh.
Then it was closer Cody Allen’s turn, his first time pitching in the 7th inning all year. Allen allowed a stolen base and walked Bautista with two outs, but escaped. In the 8th inning, Allen induced a ground out and struck out Troy Tulowitzki to end his night.
Finally, it was Andrew Miller’s turn. He struck out Martin to end the 8th inning, but allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro. Miller then struck out Kevin Pillar on three pitches and pinch-hitter Melvin Upton on five pitches. Up came Darwin Barney, who grounded a ball up the middle that Jason Kipnis fielded and threw across his body to get the out to end the game.
So how did the Indians offensively pull off the victory?
Well Mike Napoli finally showed up. He doubled in a run in the 1st inning off Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman (Carlos Santana led off the game with a walk). Napoli then hit a solo home run in the fourth to unbreak the 1-1 tie. At that point, those were the only two hits for the Indians.
Right after the Blue Jays tied the game in the fifth, the Indians came right back to retake the lead in the top of the sixth. Kipnis hit a solo homer, his first hit of the ALCS. With one out, Napoli walked, hustled into second base on a ball in the dirt, and scored the fourth run on a Jose Ramirez single to right.
Former Royal Coco Crisp got the start in left field for the Indians and went 1-for-3 with a walk. He also saved some runs with a great diving catch with two on to end the 7th inning.
The Indians will start ace Corey Kluber tomorrow afternoon on short rest (to hopefully close out the series if you are the Indians) against Aaron Sanchez.