The Blue Jays’ win over the Indians in Game 4 of the ALCS kept their slim hopes alive but apparently provided an enormous confidence boost.
Toronto is trying to do what only one team ever has done in the MLB postseason: rally from a 3-0 series deficit to win a best-of-7 series. Game 5 is this afternoon at Rogers Centre, and the Jays certainly have the starting pitching edge. They’ll start Marco Estrada, while the Indians will hand the ball to … Ryan Merritt.
Merritt, 24, pitched 11 innings (five as a starter, six as a reliever) in the majors this season and has zero postseason experience. That’s something that Blue Jays slugger and bat flip aficionado Jose Bautista expects his team to exploit. Per MLB.com:
"With our experience in our lineup, I'm pretty sure he's going to be shaking in his boots more than we are."
Yikes. That’s some serious shade.
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As for Merritt, he is saying all the right things ahead of the start that could send his Indians to their first World Series since 1997 in hopes of winning their first championship since 1948.
"I think I'll be ready for it. The crowd is going to get hyped when they get a hit or whatever. But I'll just move on to the next hitter, get him out and keep pitching to my strengths and not let it sneak up on me."
Given Bautista's comments and postseason accomplishments, the birthday boy is unlikely to sneak up on anyone.