The Game: Cleveland Indians @ Toronto Blue Jays, ALCS Game 5
The Time: 4:00 PM EDT
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Ryan Merritt (Indians) vs. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)
We now come to the part of the playoffs where Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar‘s absence will be felt by the Cleveland Indians. Due to injures, rather than one of those two excellent, experienced pitchers, Terry Francona will call on rookie lefty Ryan Merritt. Merritt has pitched in four big league games in his life, starting only one of them.
Merritt is no fireballer. He barely breaks 90 with his fastball, which is all but unheard of these days for a young kid. He struck out six and didn’t walk any in his 11 innings of two-run ball in the bigs this year, but to say that Merritt is a blank major league slate at this point is an understatement. The saving grace here is that, due to the Indians loss yesterday in a game that wasn’t terribly close, Francona did not have to use ace relievers Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, so Merritt will likely not have the longest of leashes, nor will he have to have one.
Toronto felt pretty good with yesterday’s win but today they will once again play an elimination game. On the hill for them will be Marco Estrada, who took the loss in Game 1, even if he pitched a nice game, allowing two runs over eight innings of work.
The Jays bats looked a lot healthier yesterday than they had in the first three games of the series, but they’ll need to get an early lead in this one given that a rested Miller is likely to come out of the bullpen, perhaps as early as the sixth inning. The mission: get to the kid or the season ends today.