Indians-Blue Jays ALCS Game 5: How to watch, live stream, expert predictions
The Blue Jays stayed alive with their Game 4 win
TORONTO -- Thanks to their Game 4 win Tuesday afternoon (TOR 5, CLE 1), the Blue Jays remain alive in the ALCS. The Indians still lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, though at least now Toronto has some life. They're not going down quietly.
The ALCS continues Wednesday afternoon with Game 5 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. A win sends the Indians to the World Series for the first time since 1997. Here's how you can watch Game 5.
Thursday is a travel day for the series, so both clubs can be aggressive with their bullpens in Game 5. Of course, the Indians hope Thursday is just the first of several off-days before the World Series begins next week. Here's what you need to know about the Game 5 starting pitchers.
Ryan Merritt (1-0, 1.64 ERA) vs. Blue Jays
Welcome to the show, Mr. Merritt. The 24-year-old southpaw is making his second big league start and sixth big league appearance in Game 5. Merritt is starting because the Indians simply have no one else. Carlos Carrasco (hand) and Danny Salazar (forearm) are both out with injuries. Trevor Bauer's finger is cut open too.
"It's an honor to be pitching in the playoffs," said Merritt prior to Game 3 on Monday. "It's my first year in the major leagues and it's a great feeling that Terry Francona trusts me to go out and try to win a baseball game for them in the playoffs."
Merritt had a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts and 143 1/3 innings in Triple-A this season before being called up to the big leagues. He's allowed two runs in 11 MLB innings, and in his only start, he allowed one run in five innings against the Royals.
MLB.com ranks Merritt as the No. 29 prospect in Cleveland's farm system at the moment. Here's a snippet of their scouting report:
What Merritt lacks in stuff he makes up for with pitchability and excellent command. The left-hander adds and subtracts from his upper-80s fastball and complements it with an above-average changeup. He knows how to use his curveball effectively while also mixing in a below-average slider simply to keep hitters guessing and off balance ... His lack of premium stuff and perennially low strikeout rate limits his upside, but he has all the tools to develop into a fifth starter or swingman at the highest level.
The Indians aren't exactly sending a budding ace out there. This isn't Matt Moore making his second career MLB start in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS, back when he was the best pitching prospect in the game. Merritt is someone who will have to dot the corners and live at the knees to have success. He won't overpower anyone.
One thing Merritt has working for him in Game 5 is the element of surprise. The Blue Jays haven't seen him at all. They can read all the scouting reports and watch all the video they want, but until you step into the box against a guy, it's impossible to know what his stuff looks like and how he's going to approach you.
Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA) vs. Indians
Season on the line? Estrada's been here before. He won Game 5 of the ALCS last year with the Blue Jays facing elimination, when he held the Royals to one run in 7 2/3 innings. Estrada has a 2.02 ERA in five starts and 35 2/3 postseason innings with Toronto the last two years. That includes eight innings of two-run ball in Game 1 of the ALCS last Friday.
"I'm going to go out and do what I've basically done all year and not really think about it as an elimination game," said Estrada on Tuesday. "I'll just think about it just as another game. My job is to try to go nine innings and give up zero runs. So it doesn't matter if it's the last game of the season, the first game, you want to do that every time out. So that's basically my thought is just to give the guys innings and try to shut out the other team."
In addition to his Game 1 start, Estrada also faced the Indians once in the regular season, allowing three runs in five innings on July 2. Carlos Santana has had the most career success against the changeup specialist; he's 4 for 9 with a home run in his career against Estrada. Mike Napoli and Jason Kipnis are a combined 1 for 15 (.067) against him. Napoli has the hit, a single.
CBS Sports predictions
Predicting one game between two very good teams is rather difficult, but we're gonna give it a go anyway. Here are our predictions for Game 5.
|R.J. Anderson||Mike Axisa||Jonah Keri||Dayn Perry||Bill Reiter||Matt Snyder|
|Score|| 4-3 ||3-2||6-3 || 5-2 || 5-1 || 5-3 |
Hmmm, the six of us are split. Three have Tribe ending the series Wednesday, and the other three gave the Blue Jays sending it back to Cleveland for Game 6. Intrigue!
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