Blue Jays stay alive, Dodgers ease ahead of Cubs

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE Toronto Blue Jays kept their hopes of reach­ing Ma­jor League Base­ball’s World Se­ries alive on Oc­to­ber 18 with a 5-1 home vic­tory over the Cleve­land In­di­ans.

The Blue Jays de­nied the In­di­ans a four-game sweep of the best-of­seven Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, which will send the win­ners into a ti­tle showdown with ei­ther the Chicago Cubs or the Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

The Cubs, try­ing to end a World Se­ries drought that stretches back to 1908, slipped 2-1 down in the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries with a 6-0 de­feat in Los An­ge­les.

In Toronto, Josh Don­ald­son home­red, Ed­win En­car­na­cion drove in two runs and Aaron Sanchez pitched six strong in­nings for the Blue Jays to hand Cleve­land their first de­feat of the post-season.

Eze­quiel Car­rera sin­gled in a run in the fourth to put Toronto up 2-0.

Robert Perez dou­bled in a run for Cleve­land to trim the deficit, but with the bases loaded in the bot­tom of the sev­enth, En­car­na­cion smacked a sin­gle to cen­tre that scored two runs to stretch Toronto’s lead to 4-1 be­fore they tacked on an­other in the bot­tom of the eighth.

“They hit bet­ter than us, they pitched bet­ter than us, they played de­fense bet­ter than us today, so they de­served to win,” Cleve­land short­stop Fran­cisco Lin­dor said. “Their hit­ters looked a lot bet­ter today, a lot more com­fort­able.”

Toronto hosted game five yes­ter­day, with the In­di­ans again aim­ing to se­cure their first World Se­ries ap­pear­ance since 1997, when they were beaten by the Florida Mar­lins in a se­v­engame thriller. The game had not be­gun at press time.

Down 3-1 in the se­ries, the Blue Jays still face a for­mi­da­ble task.

The only base­ball team to over­come a 3-0 post-season se­ries deficit was the 2004 Bos­ton Red Sox, who ral­lied past the New York Yan­kees in the ALCS.

In Los An­ge­les, Yas­mani Gran­dal and Justin Turner home­red off Cubs ace Jake Ar­ri­eta to help the Dodgers to a 2-1 se­ries lead with games four and five com­ing in Los An­ge­les yes­ter­day and today.

Los An­ge­les start­ing pitcher Rich Hill al­lowed just two hits with six strike­outs over six score­less in­nings as the Cubs were shut out for the se­cond time in two games.

Hill, who just 14 months ago was with an in­de­pen­dent league team af­ter bounc­ing in and out of the ma­jor leagues, called it the biggest game of his career.

“It’s all about staying in the mo­ment and ex­e­cut­ing when you’re in that mo­ment and that’s all you can think about,” Hill said.

Cy Young Award-win­ner Ar­ri­eta, who pitched a no-hit­ter at Dodger Sta­dium in Au­gust of last year, gave up six hits in five-plus in­nings, in­clud­ing Gran­dal’s two-run blast in the fourth and Turner’s solo shot to lead off the sixth that spelled the end of Ar­ri­eta’s night.

Corey Sea­ger had opened the Dodgers’ ac­count with a run-scor­ing sin­gle in the third, and the Dodgers added two more runs in the eighth.

Dodgers re­lief pitch­ers Joe Blan­ton and Grant Day­ton com­bined to throw one and two-thirds score­less in­nings be­fore closer Ken­ley Jansen recorded the fi­nal four outs.

“More than any­thing, I think we need to get a cou­ple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feel­ing back,” said Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don, whose team now hasn’t scored since game one on Oc­to­ber 15.

De­spite the Cubs’ of­fen­sive strug­gles, Gran­dal said the Dodgers couldn’t take any­thing for granted against the team that posted the best reg­u­lar-season record in base­ball.

“You can’t look ahead,” Gran­dal said. “These guys won 100-some games. They’ve got the tal­ent. When you think ahead, that’s when bad things hap­pen.”

Photo: AFP

Ed­win En­car­na­cion of the Toronto Blue Jays hits an RBI dou­ble off the Cleve­land In­di­ans’ Bryan Shaw in the sev­enth in­ning of game four of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries on Oc­to­ber 18.

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