Pitcher Ryan Merritt led the Indians to a clinching American League Championship Series Game 5 win Wednesday, even though he has never earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors during the regular season.
Also Wednesday, Anthony Rizzo was Box-Toppers Player of the Game in the Cubs’ Game 4 win to even the National League Championship Series with the Dodgers at two games apiece.
American League Championship Series Game 5: Indians 3, Blue Jays 0
Merritt pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, no walks and striking out three, to earn Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors.
The Indians win the best-of-seven-game series over the Blue Jays, 4-1, and advance to the World Series beginning next Tuesday in Cleveland.
Merritt picked up a no decision because he did not pitch the requisite five innings to earn the win. However, he did pitch at least three innings, enough to qualify to earn Box-Toppers Player of the Game.
Merritt had a Box-Toppers game score Wednesday of +5.1, most of any Indians player. Left fielder Coco Crisp had the highest Box-Toppers game score (+1.0) among Indians batters (HR 1-2 R BI).
Opposing pitcher Marco Estrada of the Blue Jays had a Box-Toppers game score of +3.0 (6IP 5H 3R 0BB 7K L).
Merritt had no Box-Toppers points during the regular season and in fact is unranked because he has yet to earn his first career Player of the Game honor during the regular season. Merritt made his Major League debut May 30 and has played in four games, pitching a total of 11 innings.
The Indians ranked higher than the Blue Jays in Box-Toppers team rankings. The Indians ranked fourth with an accumulated 123.7 Box-Toppers points earned by their players in 2016. The Blue Jays ranked ninth with 114.0, the lowest of the five AL teams to qualify for the playoffs.
Yet, the Indians were weakened by the loss of two of their top starting pitchers—Danny Salazar (12.5 Box-Toppers points, ranked eighth among AL pitchers) and Carlos Carrasco (12.4 points, ranked 10th among AL pitchers). Both were out with injuries. A third starter, Trevor Bauer (11.4 Box-Toppers points, ranked 12th among AL pitchers), was injured during the series—cutting his pinky finger repairing a drone—and could only pitch 2/3 of an inning in Game 3 before having to be removed because he was bleeding so profusely from his drone wound.
Yet, the Indians were able to cobble together four wins with bullpen stars like Andrew Miller (8.0 Box-Toppers points, first among AL middle relievers) and Cody Allen (7.0 Box-Toppers points, fourth among AL closers), plus their ace starter Corey Kluber (21.2 Box-Toppers points, first among AL pitchers).
One final note: In March, Box-Toppers somehow made the correct preseason forecast that the Indians and Blue Jays would face off in the American League Championship Series and the Cubs and Dodgers would face off in the National League Championship Series.
The only problem with that: Box-Toppers picked the Blue Jays to win the ALCS and the World Series. Now, that ain’t gonna happen.
National League Championship Series Game 4: Cubs 10, Dodgers 2
Rizzo homered and went 3-for-5, scoring twice and driving in three runs, to earn Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors.
The Cubs now even the best-of-seven-game National League Championship Series with the Dodgers, 2-2.
Rizzo had a Box-Toppers game score Wednesday of +3.0, most among Cubs players. Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey (13.4 Box-Toppers points, ranked 16th, ninth among NL pitchers) had a Box-Toppers game score of −3.0 (4IP 3H 2R 3BB 3K ND).
Opposing pitcher Julio Urias of the Dodgers had a Box-Toppers game score of −6.8 (3.2IP 4H 4R 2BB 4K L).
Rizzo had 3.0 Box-Toppers points during the regular season, 71st among NL batters and 16th among NL first basemen.
The series resumes Thursday with Game 5 in Los Angeles.
|BTG||Game||Player of Game||AB||R||H||BI||IP||H||R||ER||BB||K|
|5.1||`CLE 3, TOR 0||Ryan Merritt||-||-||-||-||4.1||2||0||0||0||3|
|3.0||CHC 10, LAD 2||Anthony Rizzo, 1B||5||2||3||3||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|`Denotes that the pitcher had a no-decision in the game and did not pick up a win or a save.|
|BTG: Box-Toppers game score|
National League Championship Series Game 5, Cubs at Dodgers, series tied, 2-2
The pitching matchup Thursday is a rematch of the Game 1 starters from Saturday. The Cubs won that game, 8-4:
Cubs—Jon Lester, 22.1 Box-Toppers points, ranked fourth among all players, third among NL pitchers.
Dodgers—Kenta Maeada, 10.0 Box-Toppers points, 54th among all players, 21st among NL pitchers.