TORONTO– Rookie pitcher Ryan Merritt didn’t let comments from six-time MLB All-Star Jose Bautista rattle him.
Before Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Bautista said Merritt would “be shaking in his boots.”
Instead, the 24-year-old had three strikeouts and allowed two hits in four innings. Merritt said he didn’t take Bautista’s remarks seriously.
“Going into today, I told myself to have fun, enjoy the moment, don’t try to do too much, be yourself, trust in your team, trust in yourself and just go out there and compete,” Merritt told FOX 8’s John Telich. “There was a lot of emotion, lot of nerves. Tough to sleep at night.”
He had plenty of positive words for the man behind the plate: Roberto Perez.
“It was a good feeling when you get out there and you know you’re commanding your pitches, you gain confidence in yourself,” Merritt said. “It’s easy to have confidence when Roberto Perez is back there catching you, you know. He’s a great catcher, he knows how to call a game, it’s fun to throw to him.”
The lefty became just the second pitcher in major-league history to start a postseason game after only one regular-season start. But without an odd sequence of events, including Trevor Bauer’s now-infamous drone injury, Merritt would not have had the opportunity.
“It’s crazy what can happen, you know. Kind of like fate, you know, it’s just kind of meant to be,” Merritt said.