This year has been extremely generous to Cleveland sports fans and that can continue over the next couple of weeks. After the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA championship in June, the Indians now have a chance to win the World Series four months later.
The last time a city has seen its NBA and MLB franchises win a championship in the same season was 2002 when the Lakers and Angels both won it.
The Indians defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 in Game 5 to secure their trip to the Fall Classic, winning the series 4-1.
If Toronto was going to stave off elimination, Game 5 was a golden opportunity as Cleveland would send 24-year old rookie Ryan Merritt to the mound to start. In fact, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista didn’t think much of Merritt on Tuesday evening saying Merritt would be “shaking in his boots” more than Toronto’s hitters facing elimination.
Merritt got the last laugh over Bautista and the Blue Jays. The rookie, who had just one previous MLB start, pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up two hits and striking out three. He did his part before Terry Francona turned it over to the bullpen, who has been dominant this postseason.
Bryan Shaw pitched an inning of relief and picked up the victory, giving up wo his and striking out two Then, it was Miller time.
Andrew Miller, the 6’7” lefty pitched 2 2/3 innings allowing one hit and striking out one. He was named the ALCS MVP after pitching 7 2/3 innings and tying the LCS record with 14 strikeouts. He was relieved in the ninth by closer Cody Allen who shut the door on the Jays season with two strikeouts and finally getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop up in foul territory.
The Cleveland bullpen has been marvelous this postseason. In 32 1/3 innings pitched, the relief unit went 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA, 41 strikeouts (21 by Miller), issuing seven walks and allowing just six earned runs while picking up six saves. Now they get plenty of time to rest as Game 1 of the World Series will be Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Mike Napoli got things started in the top of the first inning when he smashed a double off the wall, scoring Francisco Lindor. Carlos Santana hit a solo home run in the third inning and Coco Crisp did the same thing an inning later.
This will be the first time in 19 years the Tribe has reached the World Series. They will be seeking their first World Series championship since 1948, a 68-year drought. Only the Chicago Cubs have a longer drought at 108-years. Ironically enough, the Indians and Cubs could do battle in the World Series, if the Cubs can defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers (series currently tied 2-2).
This Indians team has been a special bunch all season long. On top of getting key hits, brilliant pitching and defeating two American League East powerhouses in the Red Sox and Blue Jays in succession, this team did it without key players. Michael Brantley played in only 11-games this season. Pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco both were lost in September due to arm injuries. However, this team did not let it phase them.
The magical season continues and Cleveland gets time to rest up. Many doubted them getting this far, but here they are, ready to seize the moment.