Toronto staves off elim­i­na­tion be­hind Don­ald­son’s homer, Sanchez’s pitch­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Noah Trister AP Base­ball Writer

Josh Don­ald­son home­red to give Toronto a lon­gawaited lead, and the Blue Jays fi­nally broke through with the bats, beat­ing the Cleve­land In­di­ans 5-1 on Tues­day to avert a sweep in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

The In­di­ans still lead the matchup 3-1, but Don­ald­son and a poised Aaron Sanchez handed them their first loss of this post­sea­son.

Ed­win En­car­na­cion later hit a two-run sin­gle, a wel­come sight for a rau­cous Rogers Cen­tre crowd that had fallen si­lent watch­ing its team reach the brink of elim­i­na­tion be­cause of a slum­ber­ing of­fense.

Don­ald­son’s solo shot to left­cen­ter field off Corey Klu­ber in the third put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time all se­ries. Two in­nings af­ter that, the star third base­man made an outstanding div­ing stop to pre­serve a one-run edge.

Sanchez, the Amer­i­can League ERA cham­pion, al­lowed a run and two hits in six in­nings, and the

bullpen fin­ished with three per­fect in­nings.

Cleve­land will try again Wed­nes­day to earn its first World Se­ries trip since 1997, but the big concern for the In­di­ans com­ing into the se­ries — an in­jury-rid­dled ro­ta­tion — still lingers.

Klu­ber was start­ing on three days’ rest for the first time in his ca­reer, and in Game 5 Cleve­land will send lightly used rookie Ryan Mer­ritt to the mound against Marco Estrada.

Klu­ber hadn’t al­lowed a run in ei­ther of his first two starts this post­sea­son. Don­ald­son, the reign­ing AL MVP and sport­ing a still freshly shaved face, opened the scor­ing with his first home run of these play­offs.

The wild-card Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the fourth when Eze­quiel Car­rera’s blooper fell be­tween three Cleve­land field­ers in left­cen­ter for an RBI sin­gle.

Roberto Perez hit an RBI dou­ble in the fifth off Sanchez. Car­los San­tana’s twoout grounder to the left side might have had a chance to score him, but Don­ald­son made the play. The In­di­ans didn’t have an­other baserun­ner af­ter that. Brett Ce­cil, Ja­son Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an in­ning each in relief for Toronto.

Tak­ing no chances, Blue Jays man­ager John Gib­bons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to fin­ish off Cleve­land.

The In­di­ans were try­ing to be­come the third team to sweep a Divi­sion Se­ries and Cham­pi­onship Se­ries in the same post­sea­son. The

2007 Colorado Rock­ies and 2014 Kansas City Roy­als both did it. Cleve­land had won nine in a row, in­clud­ing three straight over Bos­ton in the ALDS. The In­di­ans had a chance to take the lead in the third when Tyler Naquin hit a leadoff dou­ble and went to third on a sac­ri­fice. Sanchez re­tired San­tana on a soft grounder with the in­field in, and then Ja­son Kip­nis also grounded out.

Klu­ber was pulled af­ter 89 pitches. He al­lowed two runs and four hits in five in­nings.

The Blue Jays added two more runs in the sev­enth af­ter a throw­ing er­ror by re­liever Bryan Shaw. En­car­na­cion came up with the bases loaded and the crowd chant­ing “Ed­die” — and his hard grounder skipped off the mound and into cen­ter field to make it 4-1.


Blue Jays’ Ed­win En­car­na­cion re­acts af­ter hitting a two-run dou­ble in the sev­enth in­ning in Game 4 of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries in Toronto on Tues­day.


Blue Jays start­ing pitcher Aaron Sanchez pitches in the first in­ning of Tues­day’s game.

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