Indians on brink as Blue Jays downed
TORONTO: The Cleveland Indians overcame the loss of starting pitcher Trevor Bauer to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 and move to the brink of a place in Major League Baseball’s World Series on Monday.
Bauer was removed with blood dripping from a finger wound after stitches to an injury sustained last week split open in the first inning at the Rogers Center. But the injury did not prevent the Indians from powering to victory, giving them a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series and leaving them firmly on course for the World Series. Veteran first baseman Mike Napoli was instrumental in the Cleveland win, doubling off Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman to allow Carlos Santana to open the scoring at the top of the first before hitting a homer in the fourth. “I’ve been struggling a little bit but I’m a grinder,” Napoli said. “I knew I’d be back, just worked hard in the cage and it paid off tonight.”
The Blue Jays hit back at the bottom of the second when Michael Saunders smashed a fly ball to left field off Danny Otero to make it 1-1. Napoli restored Cleveland’s advantage at the top of the fourth, smacking a fly ball to center field for another home run off Stroman to make it 2-1. But Toronto hit back when Ezequiel Carrera scampered through for a triple off a sharp line drive. Carrera then raced over for the score after Ryan Goins ground out off Zach McAllister.
Cleveland regained the lead at the top of the sixth and once again Stroman was the victim, the Blue Jays pitcher going for his third home run of the night with Jason Kipnis hitting a line drive to right center field.
A Jose Ramirez single off Joe Biagini then allowed Napoli to come home for an additional run and make it 4-2 heading into the seventh inning. Napoli paid tribute to the response of the Indians bullpen, forced to improvise after the early departure of Bauer.
“For our bullpen to step up like that today is the only reason we were able to win today,” Napoli said. “For them to do it like that was unbelievable.” Team-mate Kipnis meanwhile revealed the team had been bracing for Bauer to break down at some point. “Trevor got a little leak. A couple of us had seen the wound and knew it was a possibility. But we were still confident that we could do with it our bullpen,” Kipnis said. “We’re having a blast-you can see the smiles in the team.”
Game four in the series takes place in Toronto on Tuesday, with the Indians aiming for their first World Series appearance since 1997, when they were beaten by the Florida Marlins in a seven-game thriller. — AFP
TORONTO: Toronto Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar, right, steals second past Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor during the seventh inning in Game 3 of baseball’s American League Championship Series in Toronto, Monday. — AP