A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
The Indians try to earn their first World Series trip since 1997 when rookie Ryan Merritt starts Game 5 of the AL Championship Series vs. Marco Estrada in Toronto. The 24-year-old Merritt made his big league debut in May and has pitched a total of 11 innings in the majors — his only start came on the final weekend of the regular season. Down 3-1 in the ALCS, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wasn’t looking too far ahead after a win Tuesday averted a sweep. Asked what he’s learned about Merritt, Gibbons said: “What I know about him? He’s left-handed. That’s all I know right now.”
Four days before his 38th birthday, Cubs right-hander John Lackey starts at Dodger Stadium with Chicago trailing 2-1 in the NL Championship Series. Lackey has pitched plenty of big games throughout his 14-year career, going 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 postseason outings (21 starts). He’ll face 20-year-old Los Angeles rookie Julio Urias, set to become the youngest starting pitcher in postseason history. Urias has thrown all of 79 big league innings, including two out of the bullpen this postseason.
NOT DONE SLUMPING
The Blue Jays are on the board in the ALCS, but some of their biggest bats have yet to make an impact. Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin are a combined 4 for 42 in four games vs. Cleveland, leaving 20 runners on base while failing to get an extra-base hit or an RBI. Toronto is 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position in the series, and that trio has left six runners stranded at second or third with two outs thus far.
A CLOSE SHAVE
Josh Donaldson homered and made a terrific play at third base in Game 4, helping Toronto stave off elimination in the ALCS. He did it a day or so after sporting a clean-shaven look. But the reigning AL MVP said he didn’t change his appearance hoping to change the Blue Jays’ luck.
“Actually, no. I got a new beard trimmer the other day and I went to trim my beard down a little bit and whenever I trimmed it I kind of nicked it. So I had to go with it, just had to shave everything off,” he said.