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Blue Jays keep playoff hopes alive, defeat Indians 5-1 in ALCS Game 4

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The Blue Jays’ offense brought the offense and starter Aaron Sanchez brought his arm to Tuesday afternoon’s match-up against the Indians, staying alive in the postseason with a 5-1 victory in Game 4 of the ALCS.

Josh Donaldson opened the scoring with a solo home run off of Corey Kluber in the bottom of the third inning. Ezequiel Carrera would tack on another run with an RBI single in the fourth. Those two runs would prove to be the only runs they’d need, but not the only ones they’d score.

Sanchez, meanwhile, was a hard nut for the Indians to crack. The right-hander yielded one run on two hits and two walks with five strikeouts on 95 pitches over six innings. Nine of his 18 outs came on ground outs. The run came around in the fifth when Sanchez issued a one-out walk to Coco Crisp followed by a two-out RBI double to Roberto Perez.

For the Tribe, Kluber — pitching on short rest — went five frames, giving up two runs on four hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts on 89 pitches.

Brett Cecil relieved Sanchez in the top of the seventh, getting Jose Ramirez to line out before striking out both Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp for an easy inning of work.

The Blue Jays tacked on some insurance in the bottom of the seventh seventh as Ryan Goins singled off of reliever Bryan Shaw to lead off the inning and Jose Bautista reached on a short grounder that resulted in Shaw throwing the ball into foul territory in right field, moving Goins to third base. Shaw intentionally walked Donaldson to load the bases and set up a force at every base. Edwin Encarnacion proceeded to ground a single up the middle, plating two runs. Donaldson was thrown out at third base on the play while Encarnacion moved up to second. At long last, the Jays got to the Indians’ bullpen.

Shaw was removed from the game and Mike Clevenger entered to make his postseason debut. Clevenger uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Encarnacion to advance to third base. Troy Tulowitzki hit a tapper back to the mound for out number two. Russell Martin grounded out to third base to end the inning.

Jason Grilli took over in the top of the eighth for the Jays. He set the Indians down in 1-2-3 fashion, getting Brandon Guyer to ground out, Perez to fly out, and Carlos Santana to foul out.

The Jays continued to add on in the bottom of the eighth against Clevenger. Carrera tripled to right-center field with one out and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Pillar.

Closer Roberto Osuna locked down the ninth inning, sandwiching a Francisco Lindor ground out with strikeouts of Jason Kipnis and Mike Napoli.

The Indians will try once again to clinch the ALCS and advance to the World Series on Wednesday at 4:00 PM EDT in ALCS Game 5. Ryan Merritt will start for the Indians against the Jays’ Marco Estrada.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.