The Cleveland Indians are going to the World Series for the first time since 1997. Andrew Miller is a major reason why the team got past the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series.
The Indians defeated the Blue Jays 3-0 on Wednesday evening to win the American League pennant. They won the series relatively easily, 4 games to 1. Miller was named the ALCS MVP. There’s no doubt that he deserved the award.
Miller appeared in every game that the Indians won in the series. He did not allow an earned run in 7 2/3 innings pitched.
In Game 1, he came in to relieve Corey Kluber in the seventh inning and struck out two Blue Jays hitters to end the inning. The following inning, he allowed a leadoff single and then struck out three consecutive batters. The Indians went on to win 2-0. He again entered in the seventh inning in Game 2. This time however, Indians manager Terry Francona decided to have him try and get six outs. Miller was able to do just that. He retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth innings and struck out five batters in the process. Cleveland won the game 2-1.
Instead of being the setup man in Game 3, Francona decided to use Miller as the closer. He came in during the bottom of the eighth and got the final out of the inning. After the ninth inning began with a leadoff single, Miller settled in and got the final three outs of the game, and the Indians won 4-2. The Indians lost Game 4, a game in which Miller did not appear in. He was called upon earlier than usual in Game 5. Francona put him in with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Jose Bautista on first base and the tying run in the on-deck circle, Miller got Josh Donaldson to ground into a double play. He then went on to throw two more scoreless innings. Indians closer Cody Allen closed out the game in the ninth, clinching the series for Cleveland.
Miller’s performance in the ALCS was undoubtably historic. He faced 25 batters in the series and only allowed three hits. He recorded 14 strikeouts and did not walk anyone over the course of the ALCS. He successfully protected the lead each time he was called upon. Each time he entered, the game was tight. He never let the pressure get to him though. Only three other relief pitchers in MLB history have won the ALCS MVP. Dennis Eckersley, Mariano Rivera and Koji Uehara are the only other relievers to do so. Miller is in elite company.
The Indians are certainly glad that they made the trade to get Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees back in July. Now, Miller and his team will prepare for the World Series where they’ll face either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Chicago Cubs. If Miller can keep up his recent dominance, Cleveland might just have another championship parade this year.