TORONTO – The Cleveland Indians are headed to the World Series after they culminated their amazing story by using a rookie starter, a lights-out bullpen, just enough power and what is turning into a managing job for the ages to win the AL pennant.
On Wednesday, the Indians beat the Blue Jays, 3-0, to take the American League Championship Series in five games.
Incredibly and befitting of their resourcefulness, it was rookie Ryan Merritt who led them in Game 5. Who is Ryan Merritt you may be asking? He is a 24-year-old junk-balling lefty from McKinney, Texas, who, prior to helping the Indians reach the World Series had thrown a grand total of 11 major league innings. With the Rogers Centre planning to rock, the Blue Jays Jose Bautista predicted the kid would be shaking in his boots.
Merritt, though, looked quite comfortable in his cleats. He retired the first 10 Blue Jays he faced before Josh Donaldson singled. Merritt quickly erased Donaldson by forcing Edwin Encarnacion into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Ryan Merritt threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the Indians in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays, helping Cleveland to its first World Series since 1997. Elsa/Getty Images
With one-out in the fifth, Merritt allowed a bloop single to Russell Martin, which set up a big decision for Indians manager Terry Francona. Like every other one this postseason, Francona aced it.
With the lead and with the Blue Jays having gotten a chance to gauge Merritt, Francona turned to his bullpen.
Bryan Shaw handled an inning before he passed the baton to Andrew Miller. Miller seems destined to be the series MVP. He took care of the seventh and eighth.
On offense, the Indians had given their pitchers enough of a cushion as Mike Napoli crush and RBI double in the first, while Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp added solo shots.
Cody Allen handled the final three outs and the Indians were headed to the World Series next Tuesday.