Cleveland Indians Follow a Familiar Script in 2-1 Win Over Toronto

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Oct 15, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller (24) high fives catcher Roberto Perez (55) after the 8th inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game two of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller (24) high fives catcher Roberto Perez (55) after the 8th inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game two of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cleveland Indians relied on great pitching for the second game in a row to take a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS.

In less than 24 hours, the Cleveland Indians have won two games over the Toronto Blue Jays, giving the good guys a 2-0 lead in the series as it heads to Canada.

Gaining home-field advantage in the 2-3-2 format puts a lot of pressure on the home team to win those opening two games, and the Indians did just that. Let’s take a look at how Game 2 was won.

Josh Tomlin Shows Up On Short Notice

An unfortunate drone incident led to Trevor Bauer being ruled out of Saturday’s game, meaning Josh Tomlin had to start the game after initially thinking he was off until Monday. This may affect the mindset of other pitchers, but Tomlin looked just fine.

A day after Corey Kluber went 6 1/3 innings in Game 1, Tomlin made it through 5 2/3, only allowing one run on three hits, while striking out six. The only run came on a Josh Donaldson double, but for the second game in a row the starting pitching of the Indians was able to neutralize a lineup filled with several dominant right-handed bats. Aside from Donaldson, only Russell Martin and Darwin Barney were able to get a hit against Tomlin.

Those three hits were all the Blue Jays could muster in the entire game, meaning once Tomlin left, things got a bit tougher.

The Bullpen Dominance Continues

Bryan Shaw came on to retire one batter in the sixth inning, but the game was officially over once Andrew Miller came in to start the seventh. After striking out five batters in 1 2/3 innings on Friday, he went a full two innings on Saturday, once again striking out five. He did so on just 24 pitches.

The ninth once again belonged to Cody Allen, who struck out two en route to his second save in two days. He did so on 13 pitches.

The Indians arguably finished the regular season with the best bullpen in baseball, so it should come as no surprise that the dominance is carrying over into October. But still, Miller and Allen combining for seven strikeouts and allowing zero hits to a talented Blue Jays lineup is special.

The Offense Does Just Enough

The Indians have only scored a total of four runs in the first two games of the ALCS, but being up 2-0 helps ease any major concerns heading into Game 3.

Playoff victories often mask problems, but the four total runs are not necessarily a problem. The Indians got out to an early 1-0 lead with a Carlos Santana home run, and after the Blue Jays tied it at 1-1, Francisco Lindor answered with a go-ahead single.

So when a big hit was needed, the Indians got one, relying on the pitching to carry the team for the final six innings.

Jose Ramirez and Mike Napoli have yet to record a hit in the series, but this team has proven all year that others are able to step up when needed. This is once again the case, and the main reason why the Indians are up 2-0 heading into Monday’s game in Toronto.

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