TORONTO -- Since joining the Cleveland Indians in a midseason trade with the New York Yankees, left-handed reliever Andrew Miller has been a difference maker out of the bullpen.
Known as a strikeout machine through his first five postseason outings with the Indians, Miller registered just one over 2.2 innings of work, but allowed just one runner to reach base in a 3-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre Wednesday.
That win gave the Indians their first trip to the World Series since 1997.
“I trusted my defense,” said Miller, the Most Valuable Player of the ALCS. “Maybe a little bit their approach, maybe just the situation.
“All that matters are outs. All that matters are wins. It honestly does not matter how we get there, and I think, top to bottom, this team believes in that. I think guys aren't carrying their bats in the field. Guys aren't getting upset if an outing doesn't go their way. They're rooting for the next guy and it shows. The results are there.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 5, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista reached base on a one-out single to center field, and the Indians once again went to their bullpen, this time for Miller. On his only pitch of the inning, Miller got the Blue Jays to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Although the Blue Jays challenged the out call at first base, a replay review upheld the play, which brought the inning to a close.
“It was awesome because I think we were all on the same page,” Miller said. “I came in the dugout and even (pitching coach) Mickey Callaway seemed really excited. We all had this idea and we executed it and went through it.
“What a play by Santana to stay on the bag. All around, what a special player. I think that was a big moment in the game.”
While Miller and the bullpen have gotten the bulk of the credit for their performances in a sweep of the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and after winning four of five by shutting down a potent offensive-minded Toronto Blue Jays team to clinch the pennant, the left-hander pointed out that catcher Roberto Perez has been a key component to the team's success.
Originally slated as the backup to Yan Gomes going into the season, Perez has been behind the plate for the stretch run throughout the end of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“We have a bullpen that's getting a lot of notoriety right now,” Miller said. “The constant behind all that is Roberto Perez. He's a special talent. I think having him back there, having him put down the pitch that I had in my mind, that 'Hey! This might work,' gave me a lot of confidence and just execute and find a way and trust the defense. These guys are incredible in the infield.”