TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays did not do a lot of talking with the media following their Game 3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series in front of the home fans at Rogers Centre Monday night.
In fact, many of the Blue Jays’ top talents did not address the media at all. But apparently, some of those who did not speak with reporters instead chose to direct their focus to teammates prior to Game 4. And whatever the message was, it worked as the Blue Jays staved off elimination with a 5-1 win over the Indians.
“I'm not going to give too much away of what I had to say, but just more so getting everybody's attention and focus and understanding,” Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “Everybody knew coming into today how important today was, but at the same time, I just wanted to kind of reiterate that and let the boys know that I was coming to play.”
According to Game 4 starter Aaron Sanchez, who held the Indians to just one run and two hits over six innings of work, Donaldson inspired his teammates by speaking from the heart.
“He just showed his emotion,” Sanchez said. “He said, 'Understanding it's a must-win game, just to go out there and give everything you've got. You may not be able to play again tomorrow, and just be aware of the situation.'”
Donaldson did more than just deliver an emotional speech prior to Game 4. In fact, he backed it up with his play on the field.
Starting pitcher Corey Kluber and the Indians were just one strike away from getting out of the third inning in a scoreless tie with the Blue Jays, but Donaldson had other ideas.
On a 2-2 pitch from Kluber with two out after swinging third strikes from Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista, Donaldson belted his first postseason home run over the wall in left field. Donaldson’s home run was the first run given up by Kluber during three starts this postseason.
The Donaldson homer gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead, which marked the first time since Game 1 of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox that the Indians did not score before their opponents.
After catcher Roberto Perez drove in a run in the fifth, the Indians looked as though they may even the score when designated hitter Carlos Santana hit a sharp ground ball to the left side of the infield. However, Donaldson made a diving stop in the hole near shortstop and fired a throw to first for the final out of the inning.
“Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games,” Sanchez said of Donaldson. “There's nothing more I can say about JD. Not only with that play, with the home run getting it started in the third to get us on the board first. I'm glad he's on our squad.”
Donaldson added, “I feel like I have the capability to help my team win. There's a lot of guys in that clubhouse that also have a capability, but there was no way that I felt like I was going to try to leave. If we were to lose today, there was no way that I was going to leave this series and not feel like I had an impact on it.”