Bullpen brilliance gives Indians ALCS stranglehold
(The Sports Xchange) - Mike Napoli homered and hit an RBI double, the Cleveland bullpen was stellar from the first inning on, and the Indians defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Monday night to take a three-games-to-none stranglehold in the American League Championship Series.
The Indians will aim for a sweep of the best-of-seven set on Tuesday at Rogers Centre.
Jason Kipnis also homered for Cleveland, while Michael Saunders homered for Toronto.
Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer left the game after with two outs in the first inning following his second walk, as his previously injured right pinky finger began bleeding while he was on the mound.
The Cleveland bullpen took over, and six relievers held the Blue Jays to two runs.
Toronto starter Marcus Stroman (0-1) allowed three hits, including two home runs, three walks and four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Bauer was trying to pitch after cutting his finger while playing with a drone. The injury required several stitches and prevented him from starting Game 2.
Kipnis led off the sixth inning with his second home run of the post season, a liner to right on a 2-2 fastball, that gave Cleveland a 3-2 lead.
Joe Biagini replaced Stroman after a one-out walk to Napoli in the sixth. Napoli took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jose Ramirez, and Cleveland led 4-2.
Kevin Pillar led off the bottom of the seventh with a single against Bryan Shaw (1-0), who had pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.
Cody Allen took over on the mound for Cleveland and retired Ezequiel Carrera on a fly to right. Pinch hitter Justin Smoak was at the plate when Pillar stole second. Smoak struck out swinging and Jose Bautista walked before Josh Donaldson lined out to left for the third out.
Allen retired the first two batters of the eighth before Andrew Miller replaced him and Russell Martin struck out for the third time of the game.
Toronto reliever Roberto Osuna pitched around a one-out single to Coco Crisp and a ground-rule double to Tyler Naquin in the ninth.
Miller pitched around a leadoff single from pinch hitter Dioner Navarro in the ninth to earn the save. He had three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings, giving him 13 K's in the series.
Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out RBI double by Napoli. The hit scored Carlos Santana, who led off with a walk. Napoli's double to the wall in right was in and out of the glove of Bautista.
Bauer came out after he gave up his second walk to his fourth batter, Troy Tulowitzki.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to talk to plate umpire Brian Gorman, who then went to the mound as did Cleveland manager Terry Francona and a trainer.
After work was done on the cut finger, reliever Dan Otero replaced Bauer and retired Martin on a grounder to second to end the inning.
The Blue Jays tied the game on the first post season home run by Saunders, a drive to left on a 1-1 changeup that led off the bottom of the second.
Jeff Manship replaced Otero for the third inning and allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings.
Napoli led off the fourth inning with his first homer of the post season on a 0-1 fastball to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
Zach McAllister, who replaced Manship with one out in the bottom of the fourth, allowed a leadoff triple by Carrera in the bottom of the fifth. Carrera scored the tying run on a groundout to shortstop by Ryan Goins, a ball up the middle that deflected off the pitcher.