(The Sports Xchange) - How do you win a game with only four hits? Easy: only give up three.
Francisco Lindor drove in what became the winning run in the third inning, and reliever Andrew Miller put on an overpowering display of pitching late in the contest as the Cleveland Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Four pitchers combined on a three-hitter as Cleveland took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The scene now shifts to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday night.
“Our backs are to the wall. That’s pretty obvious,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
Cleveland’s pitching has been sensational, holding Toronto to one run in 18 innings. In Saturday’s win, relievers Miller and Cody Allen combined to retire the last nine batters in a row, seven on strikeouts.
“I know one thing, they pitched great,” Gibbons said. “The pitching has been great on both sides.”
Miller pitched the seventh and eighth innings and struck out five of the six batters he faced. He also pitched in the Indians’ 2-0 win in Game 1 on Friday. In those two appearances, Miller pitched a combined 3 2/3 hitless and scoreless innings, facing 12 batters and striking out 10 with no walks.
“There’s a reason we gave up what we did for him,” said Indians manager Terry Francona of Miller, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees in exchange for some top minor league prospects.
“We thought that he could be a guy that we could leverage in situations like we have. And it would make our bullpen that much better and give us a chance to keep playing. And that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
The 6-foot-7 left-hander came in to start the seventh and struck out all three batters he faced. He retired the side in order in the eighth, with two more strikeouts.
Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin pitched 5 2/3 innings to get the win. Tomlin allowed one run on three hits, with six strikeouts and two walks. Allen pitched the ninth to pick up the save.
“(Corey) Kluber last night, one of the top guys in the game, and Tomlin, he’s right up there at the top of command guys in baseball,” Gibbons said. “He used his breaking ball a lot tonight. It was very effective.”
Toronto starter J.A. Happ, a 20-game winner during the regular season, pitched five innings and gave up both Cleveland runs.