The Cleveland Indians are into their first MLB World Series in 19 years after completing a 4-1 series win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
A 3-0 victory in game five of the series at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday saw the Indians through the American League (AL) Championship Series.
Facing either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers, the Indians will be aiming for their first World Series success since 1948.
Ryan Merritt got through 4.1 innings in game five before the Indians' bullpen once more got the job done.
Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor went three-for-four, while Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered.
MERRITT STEPS UP
Merritt was not "shaking in his boots". Toronto slugger Jose Bautista said after the game four win that with the Jays' experience in the lineup, Merritt would "be shaking in his boots more than we are". As it turned out, the 24-year-old southpaw, who was making his first postseason start after making just one start in the regular season, was not fazed at all by the pressure. Merritt faced one batter over the minimum after exiting in the fifth inning, allowing just two hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
Indians bullpen trio unbeatable. The Indians are now 5-0 this postseason and are 11-0 this year when relievers Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen all appear in a game. The star of the trio of course is Miller, who got eight Jays outs in relief on just 21 pitches. The likely ALCS MVP now has 14 strikeouts in 7.2 innings pitched this series with three hits allowed without a run scored. A lot of credit goes to manager Terry Francona for his unconventional use of his bullpen. With the win, Francona moved into seventh on the all-time manager postseason victories list with 35, passing Sparky Anderson.
Estrada's fly-ball tendencies catch up with him. Only Drew Smyly and Hector Santiago had a higher fly-ball percentage than Estrada in the regular season and the propensities followed him into game five as the right-hander forced only one groundout in six innings. Unfortunately for the Jays, Estrada's fly balls were travelling further than he is used to off the bat of Santana (solo homer), Crisp (solo homer), and Mike Napoli (RBI double to the warning track). Despite hurling a complete game in a game one loss, Estrada was saddled with another loss Wednesday as Toronto bats failed to give him any run support for 14 consecutive innings.
SANTANA, CRISP GO DEEP
Santana and Crisp gave the Indians 11 home runs in eight postseason games.
CUBS LOOK FOR RESPONSE
The Cubs and Dodgers meet later on Wednesday with the latter leading the National League (NL) Championship Series 2-1. John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA) starts for the Cubs against Julio Urias (5-2, 3.39 ERA).