By David Adler, Chad Thornburg and Ben Weinrib
The Indians punched their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday with a 3-0 win over the Blue Jays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto. The Tribe has won seven of its first eight playoff games -- sweeping the Red Sox in the AL Division Series before besting the Jays in five games -- and is now advancing to the World Series for the sixth time in franchise history.
It's Cleveland's first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1997, when it lost to the Marlins in seven games. The Tribe hasn't won the World Series since 1948, a 67-year title drought. If not for the Cubs, the Indians would own the longest title drought in the Major Leagues. Cleveland is 2-3 in its five World Series appearances.
• This is the first time the Indians clinched a best-of-seven postseason series in Game 5. Before Wednesday, they had led 3-1 in a best-of-seven series three times in franchise history, and lost Game 5 each time.
• The Blue Jays fell in the ALCS for the second straight year. They haven't made the World Series since 1993, when they won the second of back-to-back titles.
• Until they beat the Blue Jays in Game 5, the Indians were 2-11 in their past 13 potential clinching games in the postseason. Toronto, on the other hand, had been 6-1 in elimination games over the past two seasons.
• With 2 2/3 innings in Game 5, Indians left-hander Andrew Miller pitched in all four wins in the ALCS. Miller continued his postseason brilliance -- he's now thrown 11 2/3 scoreless innings this postseason, with only five hits and two walks allowed and 21 strikeouts.
• Miller won the ALCS MVP Award after 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts against Toronto. He became the first relief pitcher to win an LCS Most Valuable Player honor since the Red Sox's Koji Uehara in 2013. Miller is just the sixth reliever to win MVP of an LCS, joining Dennis Eckersley (1988), Rob Dibble and Randy Myers (co-MVPs in '90), Mariano Rivera (2003) and Uehara.
• Going back to the regular season, the last time Miller allowed a run was Sept. 7, against the Astros. Since then, he's made 17 straight scoreless appearances out of Cleveland's bullpen, throwing 24 innings with 41 strikeouts over that span.
• Miller's 14 strikeouts tied the record for most by a reliever in a single LCS, matching Brad Lidge's mark set with the Astros in 2004. Miller and Lidge are the only relief pitchers to pitch at least seven scoreless innings with 14 or more strikeouts in an LCS.
• Indians rookie left-hander Ryan Merritt pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits in his Game 5 start, a huge boost for Cleveland's short-handed rotation. Merritt had only made one career start (and four total appearances) prior to Game 5, becoming only the second pitcher in MLB postseason history to start a game with only one previous regular-season start. The other was the Rays' Matt Moore, who had only started one game when he pitched Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS against the Rangers. Merritt is the least-experienced starter in LCS history.
• Merritt set down the first 10 Blue Jays he faced Wednesday -- the longest streak by an Indians pitcher to start a postseason game since Hall of Famer Early Wynn in Game 2 of the 1954 World Series against the New York Giants.
• Both teams' pitchers were in firm control of their stuff, with neither team issuing a walk. It was the first game in LCS history where two teams combined for zero free passes, and just the eighth postseason game ever with no walks. Game 1 of this year's National League Division Series between the Cubs and Giants also had no walks.
• Merritt's four-seam fastball averaged 86.4 mph in Game 5, according to Statcast™. The Blue Jays had batted .249 this year against fastballs less than 90 mph -- the fourth-lowest such batting average in the Major Leagues. (The Cubs were last at .215.) Toronto slugged .446 against those fastballs, ranking 20th in baseball.
• This game marked the sixth time this season that Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada allowed multiple home runs in a start. He's done so 31 times in his career, but never before in the playoffs.
• Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor went 3-for-4 in Game 5, his third multihit game of the ALCS. At 22 years, 340 days old, he's the second-youngest player in ALCS history with three multihit games in the series, after Derek Jeter, who was 22 years, 109 days old when he set the mark in the 1996 ALCS.
• With Wednesday's 3-0 win, the Indians have three shutouts this postseason. They're the first AL club to post three shutouts in the same playoffs since the Yankees did it four times en route to a World Series title in 1998.
• Mike Napoli's first-inning double for the Indians was a barreled ball with an exit velocity of 108.2 mph and a launch angle of 24 degrees, according to Statcast™. Balls hit at that speed and angle had been a home run 97 percent of the time.
• Coco Crisp has had a knack for coming up with clutch home runs since joining the Indians. The veteran outfielder -- who was acquired via trade with the A's on Aug. 31, just in time to be eligible for the postseason -- has come through in pivotal moments for the Tribe with each of his past three homers. Prior to his solo shot in Wednesday's win, Crisp last homered on Oct. 10, when the Indians defeated the Red Sox to reach the ALCS, and Sept. 26, the day they clinched the AL Central.
• Game 5 was a brisk affair, lasting just two hours, 37 minutes. The last LCS game to be completed that quickly was Game 1 of the 2008 NLCS between the Dodgers and Phillies (2:36). In the AL, you have to go back three more years -- to Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS between the White Sox and Angels (2:34) -- and even further for a series-clinching game. The last LCS clincher completed under 157 minutes was Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS, which the Braves won to advance past the Cardinals to the World Series.
• The Indians are the second team from Cleveland to contend for a title this year after the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship in June. If the Tribe can break the franchise's title drought, it would make Cleveland the first North American city to claim two major professional sports championships in the same year since Boston in 2004, when the Patriots won the Super Bowl and the Red Sox won the World Series.
David Adler, Chad Thornburg and Ben Weinrib are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.