Indians blank Blue Jays to reach World Series

Indians blank Blue Jays to reach World Series
By Reuters

20/10/2016 at 00:18

Oct 19 (The Sports Xchange) - Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered, rookie Ryan Merritt allowed two hits in 4 1/3 innings and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon to win the American League Championship Series in five games.

The Indians will play with the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, which opens Tuesday in Cleveland.

Merritt was making his postseason debut and his second start in five major-league appearances. The left-hander allowed no walks and no runs while striking out three before the Indians bullpen took over.

Toronto starter Marco Estrada (1-2) allowed five hits, including two solo home runs, and three runs (two earned) in six innings. The right-hander struck out seven.

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 the ball on the carom off the wall, so the run was scored as unearned with no RBI awarded.

Santana hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-0 pitch with one out in the third and Cleveland led 2-0.

Meanwhile, Merritt needed only 31 pitches in setting down nine straight hitters over the first three innings. He finished with 49 pitches -- 33 for strikes.

Crisp hit his second homer of the postseason on a drive to right with two out in the fourth to give the Indians a three-run lead.

Jose Bautista singled with one out in the sixth and Andrew Miller replaced Bryan Shaw. The left-hander's first batter, Josh Donaldson, grounded to shortstop for the inning-ending double play and Miller set the Blue Jays down in order in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Pinch hitter Dioner Navarro led off the bottom of the eighth with a single but Miller continued his brilliant postseason by striking out Ezequiel Carrera, inducing a fielder's choice and getting a flyout to end the inning.

Miller allowed one hit and struck out one in 2 2/3 innings before yielding to Cody Allen, who struck out a pair and worked around one hit in the ninth to earn the save.

The Blue Jays got their first base runner when Donaldson singled with one out in the fourth. Edwin Encarnacion followed by grounding to shortstop to start a double play.

Shaw, who replaced Merritt after Russell Martin blooped a single to right, gave up a single to pinch hitter Michael Saunders before striking out Carrera and Kevin Pillar to earn the win.

Lindor opened the ninth with a double against Roberto Osuna, who retired the next three batters.

Just as Bautista was about to come to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, a fan ran on the field and was caught near second base.

Bautista, who can be a free agent in the offseason, doubled.

Donaldson and Encarnacion, who also can become a free agent, struck out. Troy Tulowitzki fouled out to first and Allen had his fifth save of the postseason.