Kluber returns for Game 4 as Indians look for sweep
TORONTO -- Corey Kluber will start on short rest Tuesday in the hopes that he can give his team a long rest going into the World Series.
The Cleveland Indians will be entering Game 4 of the American League Championship Series trying to complete a four-game sweep after winning Game 3 over the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Monday at Rogers Centre.
By starting Tuesday, Kluber would be available for Game 7 should the Blue Jays awaken and extend the series that far. Kluber, who won Game 1 of the ALCS, will face Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez.
When Cleveland’s Game 3 starter, Trevor Bauer, left after two-thirds of an inning, the Indians used six relievers to complete the final 8 1/3 innings.
Indians left-hander Ryan Merritt, who has one career major league start and four appearances, had been listed as the tentative Game 4 starter.
Manager Terry Francona, however, said he had little choice but to start Kluber, who is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA this postseason.
“If we don’t bring him back (Tuesday) and he pitches Game 5, we don’t have a starter for Game 7,” Francona said. “I mean, we have to physically have a starter. So this is the best way to do it. I mean, this is the only way to do it. There’s no other way around it. We don’t have another starter right now. It’s not that difficult.”
Kluber is 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA in five career regular-season starts against Toronto. However, on Friday in Game 1, he held them to six hits, two walks and two runs while striking out six in 6 1/3 innings.
Sanchez will be making his second career postseason start and the second of this postseason. His previous postseason experience was as a reliever in 2015.
Sanchez allowed six runs on three hits and four walks in taking a no-decision against the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, a game Toronto won in 10 innings. In the 2015 postseason, he was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 7 1/3 innings over nine games.
In one start against Cleveland this season, Sanchez was 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA. He is 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA in three career games, including two starts, against the Indians.
“Hopefully just to keep my emotions in check,” Sanchez said when asked what he learned from his ALDS start vs. the Rangers. “I’ve been there before, last year, but it was out of the ‘pen. The roles were a little bit different.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons juggled his lineup Monday, moves that included putting Jose Bautista in the leadoff spot, where he had been earlier in the season, and putting Troy Tulowitzki into the No. 4 spot.
The duo went a combined 1-for-6 with two walks in the Game 3 loss.
Gibbons said he did not anticipate making any more such moves.
“I may already have done that enough,” Gibbons said. “No, we’ll run the boys out there (Tuesday) that got us to this point. It’s a pretty good group and they’re due.”
The Indians insist they are not yet looking forward to the World Series.
”We’re honestly not even thinking about it too much,“ said second baseman Jason Kipnis, who hit the go-ahead homer in the sixth inning Monday. ”And that’s the best part about this. Even with the young guys on this team with not much postseason experience, after the first win versus Boston, everything slowed down for everyone, and it always feels like the next games are on the schedule, like we’ve been playing, like we have the whole time.
“We know we’re not ever out of it. And guys have a lot of confidence and have a lot of fun right now, and it’s a good recipe to win games.”