Cleveland Indians reach World Series by ousting Blue Jays

LOS ANGELES, USA - The Cleveland Indians are going to the World Series for the first time since 1997 after a 3-0 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto on Wednesday, October 19.

The Indians won the best-of-7 American League Championship Series 4 games to one and will host game one of the World Series on Tuesday against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs and Dodgers faced off later Wednesday in Los Angeles in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series with the hosts up 2-1.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp belted solo home runs for the Indians, who are seeking their first World Series title since 1948 and third overall.

They have lost the World Series in 1954, 1995 and 1997.

Rookie pitcher Ryan Merritt, making his post-season debut and his second start in five major-league appearances, allowed just two hits in 4 1/3 innings. The left-hander surrendered no walks and no runs, striking out three.

He needed only 31 pitches in retiring 9 straight hitters over the first 3 innings.

"The emotions out there were kind of crazy at first," Merritt admitted. "But it settled down, just trusted myself, stayed within myself, tried not to let the crowd get to me too much, trusted my defense and just be myself out there."

Toronto starter Marco Estrada allowed 5 hits - including both homers, and three runs in 6 innings.

Cleveland jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out single from Francisco Lindor and a double by Mike Napoli. Toronto leftfielder Ezequiel Carrera mis-handled the ball coming off the wall so the run was scored as unearned.

Santana's second homer of the playoffs came on a 1-0 pitch with one out in the third, and Crisp hit his second homer of the post-season on a drive to right with two out in the fourth.

This year will mark the first time in Indians club history that they will serve as hosts in the opening game of the World Series.

On the same night, the Cleveland Cavaliers will raise their championship banner on the opening night of the new NBA season - the first crown for any Cleveland sports team in 50 years.

"I can't wait to see what it's like in Cleveland, honestly," said relief pitcher Andrew Miller. "Obviously they got a taste of the basketball championship. The crowds for the playoff games at home have been special. It's going to be a lot of fun."

While the Indians' dry spell is the longest in the American League, the Cubs have endured a mythic drought since last winning the World Series in 1908.

The end appeared to be in sight as the Cubs roared to a major leagues-leading 103 regular-season victories.

But since winning game one against the Dodgers, the Cubs have struggled offensively, enduring back-to-back shutouts for the first time since May of 2014 - a 1-0 loss in Chicago followed by a 6-0 defeat on Tuesday in Los Angeles. – Rappler.com