TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays earned themselves another game, and if they play the way they did in Game 4 in Game 5, they may yet earn themselves another. Nothing is promised beyond one more, the margin between them and Cleveland painfully short, the odds before them very, very long.

Still, a brilliant Aaron Sanchez, a playing like a possessed madman Josh Donaldson, a clutch-as-usual Edwin Encarnacion and the catalyst Ezequiel Carrera made sure their season didn’t end Tuesday evening. A 5-1 victory against Corey Kluber before a delirious crowd of 49,142 narrowed the deficit in the American League Championship Series to 3-1. And with Marco Estrada due to start against Ryan Merritt on Wednesday, well you can almost envision a return trip to Cleveland for a Game 6, and who knows what happens if things get that far.

But that’s looking too far down the road, and the Blue Jays are by no means out of the woods.

Donaldson’s homer in the third gave them their first lead of the series, while Sanchez held Cleveland to a run on two hits over six outstanding innings. Yet the Blue Jays, up 2-1, were a mistake away until precious breathing room arrived in the seventh, helped along by a Cleveland error and the first debatable decision made by manager Terry Francona this series.

Ryan Goins opened the inning with a single and Jose Bautista followed with a little nubber up the third base line that Bryan Shaw fielded and threw away. That brought up Donaldson, who Francona ordered walked intentionally to load the bases. As he took his four, the crowd chanted “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.”

Encarnacion took ball one, fouled off strike one and then shot a groundball up the middle to score two runs, the crowd exploding even as Donaldson was thrown out at third, drawing a throw away from home. The single gave the Blue Jays more runs than in their first three games combined.

Another run came in the eighth, when Carrera tripled with one out and scored on Kevin Pillar’s sacrifice fly to a diving Brandon Guyer in right field.

The outburst provided low leverage innings for Jason Grilli in the eighth and Roberto Osuna in the ninth after Brett Cecil delivered a crucial and clean seventh.

A pivotal sequence for Sanchez came in the third, when Tyler Naquin opened the inning with a double and was promptly sacrificed to third by Roberto Perez for the top of the Cleveland order. The Blue Jays brought the infield in and Carlos Santana grounded out to Goins, who made a clever pick on the smash, before Jason Kipnis rolled over a curveball to Goins for the final out.

Donaldson then provided the Blue Jays their first lead of the series in the bottom half of the frame when he fouled off a 2-2 curveball in the upper part of the zone before pummelling a low curve over the wall in left-centre.

Sanchez followed with a clean, nine-pitch fourth and the Blue Jays tacked on another run in the bottom half, as Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin walked to open the inning and Carrera dunked a ball into centre for an RBI single. Tulowitzki read the ball perfectly, allowing him to score easily.

Cleveland got on the board in the fifth as Coco Crisp worked a one-out walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored when Roberto Perez rocketed a meaty fastball off the wall in left-centre at 105 mph. Santana followed with a grounder headed to left field that Donaldson snared at full extension diving to his left before throwing to first for the out.

It was brilliant.

The Blue Jays nearly padded their edge again in the sixth when Tulowitzki opened the inning with a smash off the top of the right-field wall that went for a long single. After a Martin fielder’s choice and a Michael Saunders single, Carrera rocked a ball to the track in right field where Lonnie Chisenhall chased it down for the out.

Eventually they broke through and there will be a Game 5, an opportunity to win the right to play another game.