This series was expected to be a slugfest between the Indians and Blue Jays. However, it has been a one-sided affair as Cleveland is up 3-0 in this best-of-seven series. The only team that has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit was Terry Francona’s 2004 Boston Red Sox team.
Punches and counter-punches were being thrown in the first six innings of Game 3. Mike Napoli got the scoring started when he doubled home Carlos Santana on a ball that deflected off Jose Bautista in the top of the first. Michael Saunders would tie the game with a solo home run in the bottom half of the second innings.
Two innings after Saunders tied the game, Napoli untied the game for a second time, this time via the long ball, giving the Tribe a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Toronto yet again threw a counter jab on a Ryan Goins groundout that scored Ezequiel Carrera.
A half inning later, the Indians would throw a punch that was the difference maker. Jason Kipnis launched a solo home run to put his team back on top, 3-2. Later in the innings, Jose Ramirez singled home Napoli to give Cleveland a 4-2 lead.
Both bullpens pitched well in this game, but an awful lot of credit deserves to go to the Cleveland bullpen. The Indians started Trevor Bauer after he was scratched from his Game 2 start due to a laceration on his right pinky finger. Well, he only recorded two outs in the bottom of the first as his pinky had started to bleed. Toronto manager pointed it out to home plate umpire Brian Gorman and Bauer had to be removed from the game.
Cue the Indians’ bullpen.
Francona sent out six relievers to replace Bauer and they stepped up to the challenge. Francona even switched the roles of Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen. This time, it was Allen who came into the game in the bottom of the seventh and he pitched 1 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. Miller came in with two outs in the bottom half of the eighth and converted. the four-out save. Miller kept his epic October up, as three of his four recorded outs were by strikeout.
Miller has struck out 13 of the 17 Toronto hitters he has faced in this series, which is a huge reason the Indians are currently up 3-.0.
Marcus Stroman gave up all four runs, but allowed more runs (4) than hits (3), but also walked a three Cleveland hitters. The Toronto ‘pen came in and did not allow a run while giving up four hits.
Corey Kluber, who pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 1, will get the call in the elimination game on Tuesday night.in the Rogers Centre. Kluber has yet to surrender a run in 13 1/3 innings this postseason. This will be the first time in his career that he will pitch on three-days’ rest.
Toronto will rely on Aaron Sanchez to get the job done and avoid elimination. Sanchez hasn’t started since Game 3 of the ALDS, where he gave up six runs to the Rangers. The Toronto offense had to bail Sanchez out then and might have to do so again on Tuesday, but that will be a tall task facing Kluber.
The Cleveland Indians can book their trip to the World Series with a win in Toronto on Tuesday night. Nobody predicted this series to play out the way it has. If the Cleveland pitching staff can continue to pitch the way they have been, Toronto may find themselves packing up their lockers sooner than expected.