TORONTO – The Cleveland Indians’ bullpen was rightfully credited for doing a masterful job in the first three games of the American League Championship Series.
The Blue Jays’ relievers have quietly been just as strong.
Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli and closer Roberto Osuna provided a shutout inning apiece behind starter Aaron Sanchez as the Blue Jays defeated Cleveland 5-1 in Game 4 on Tuesday to force another game in the best-of-seven series.
Toronto’s relievers have yet to be charged with an earned run in the series.
“We go about our business the same way and it’s working,” Grilli said. “Our job is to put our hitters at the plate as much as possible. Keep the momentum on our side because I know we have every bit of confidence in them.
“If we do that, we’ve got a really good chance to win every ball game.”
Osuna complained of a stretch-like feeling in his pitching shoulder after Toronto’s wild-card victory over Baltimore two weeks ago. Doctors told him nothing was wrong and he has been strong since, tossing eight innings of relief without allowing an earned run.
The Blue Jays followed the win over the Orioles with a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series. The whole team welcomed a few days off but the bullpen in particular needed a break.
The time off appears to have done wonders.
“I think this whole season with the ups and downs of the bullpen was shaping and preparing it for this moment,” said reliever Joe Biagini. “It was tough when (Joaquin) Benoit went down, but it almost served as motivation to try to hold it together for as long as we can.”
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle last month and won’t pitch in this series.
Marco Estrada will get the start for Toronto in Game 5 on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.
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