Aaron Sanchez pitched six strong innings and the Toronto bats finally woke up as the Blue Jays staved off playoff elimination Tuesday with a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
Four Toronto pitchers limited the Indians to two hits.
The Jays still face three more do-or-die games, two in Cleveland, if they are to survive the best-of-seven series, and history is against them. Since the introduction of the best-of-seven format in 1985, only one of 31 teams have rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win the ALCS (Boston, 2004).
“They were nice, loose, and relaxed, well aware of the circumstances,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons of his team. “They showed up today like they always do and played a good ballgame. Started out with Sanchez, great out in the bullpen, bullpen has been pitching really good, nice little roll, too. Then Donaldson’s big home run to get us on the board, we’ve been looking on that. Then some add-on runs, Carrera, a nice night. A lot of good things today.”
On the plus side for Toronto, the injury-riddled Cleveland starting rotation is not deep. Game 5 goes Wednesday with Marco Estrada against Indians rookie Ryan Merritt.
After scoring just three runs in the first three games, the Toronto offence got out of first gear in a game that was a mirror image of the previous three. This time Toronto outpitched Cleveland and got the timely hits.
Josh Donaldson homered for Toronto and Edwin Encarnacion drove in a pair of runs before a sellout of 49,142 under the roof at the Rogers Centre that finally had something to cheer about.
Toronto, which totalled 17 hits in the first three games, outhit Cleveland 9-2.