Cleveland Indians Fail to Sweep Toronto in ALCS

The Cleveland Indians suffered their first defeat of the postseason in Game Four of the ALCS, putting the team’s World Series plans on hold for at least one more day.

After six nearly flawless games in the 2016 playoffs, the Cleveland Indians had a tough day on Tuesday in Toronto, falling in Game Four of the American League Championship Series by a score of 5-1. The Tribe still leads the series three games to one, and will have an opportunity to clinch on Wednesday at the Rogers Centre.

This marked the first game in the series in which the Jays managed to score more than two runs, and the first time all postseason that the Indians allowed more than one run in a single inning.

Game Five is scheduled to get started at 4:08 p.m. ET on Wednesday, with rookie Ryan Merritt slated to start for Cleveland against Toronto’s Marco Estrada, who took the loss in the first game of the series.

Klubot on Short Rest

Indians’ ace Corey Kluber was making his first career start on short rest, and while he wasn’t as sharp as he’d been in his first two outings of the playoffs, gave the club a chance to win. In 5 innings, Kluber allowed two runs on four hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts.

A solo home run by Josh Donaldson in the third inning ended the right-hander’s postseason scoreless inning streak at 16, and a bloop single off the bat of Ezequiel Carrera in the fourth scored Troy Tulowitzki for the only other damage.

Should the series reach a seventh game, it appears that Kluber will be the one taking the ball, again on short rest. Tribe fans, of course, are hoping it doesn’t come to that.

Sanchez on Long Rest

Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez was in a very different situation from Kluber, having not been on the mound since Game Three of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, a span of nine days. The 24-year old looked rested, too, allowing just a run on two hits, with two walks and five punchouts, in six innings of work.

The Blue Jays bullpen then shut the Indians down over the final three frames, with Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli, and Roberto Osuna retiring all nine hitters they faced. For the series, Toronto relievers have yielded just four hits and two walks and have yet to allow a run in 9.2 innings.

After scoring at least four runs in all three games of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland has done so only once thus far against the Jays. Wednesday’s starter Estrada gave up just two runs in eight innings of Game One, so the Indians’ lack of offensive punch is something to keep an eye on.

On to the Next One

Cleveland still maintains a 3-1 lead in the series, and was the only team in Major League Baseball to avoid a four-game losing streak all season long. So while the sweep would have been ideal, there is absolutely no reason for panic from fans.

In the history of the game, Toronto is the twelfth team to fall behind in an LCS series 3-0, and the 35th in any postseason series. Of those clubs, only the 2004 Red Sox (managed, of course, by current Tribe skipper Terry Francona) came back to win. So it’s not an impossible feat for the Blue Jays, and the playoffs are nothing if not utterly unpredictable, but history isn’t certainly isn’t on their side.

Should Toronto win on Wednesday, it will still trail 3-2, so Cleveland did its job by taking one of the games north of the border. Winning two straight at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario has been a tall order for opponents all year, and with the electricity of the postseason crowd, the Indians still have to feel completely confident that they can punch their ticket to the World Series.

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