Lindor Homer Lifts Tribe to Shutout Over Jays; Indians 2, Blue Jays 0
Bob Toth | On 14, Oct 2016
A two-run home run from Francisco Lindor gave the Indians all of the runs that they needed as Cleveland blanked the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-0, in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night.
The city of Cleveland hosted a playoff classic at Progressive Field as the ALCS continued an impressive and exciting run of competitive postseason action across Major League Baseball this October. Corey Kluber and Marco Estrada put on a clinic on the mound, but it was Kluber and the Tribe bullpen who came away victorious while Estrada was dealt a complete game defeat.
Kluber worked out of trouble in the first. After striking out Ezequiel Carrera to start the night, Josh Donaldson singled and Edwin Encarnacion doubled. Kluber came back to strike out Jose Bautista and got a grounder by Russell Martin to Mike Napoli at first to escape harm.
The Jays put two more on with two outs in the third on a single by Encarnacion and a walk by Bautista, but Martin went down swinging as Kluber continued to show his ace status.
The Indians got their third hit of the game off of Estrada in the fifth as Lonnie Chisenhall led off the inning with his second hit of the game. He moved to second on a sacrifice from Coco Crisp and moved to third on a groundout by Tyler Naquin, but he was stranded there as Roberto Perez was called out on strikes looking.
Things changed in the Indians’ favor in the next inning. Jason Kipnis, who has had a rough time in his career with Estrada, drew a walk with one out to bring Lindor to the plate. He had singled in his second at bat, but he delivered the clutch moment of his career, sending an 0-2 pitch into the night sky and over the wall in center for the game’s first runs of the night.
Kluber returned to the mound to start the seventh and retired Pillar on a grounder before manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen, bringing in the dominating Andrew Miller. And dominate he did, striking out two in the seventh and all three outs of the eighth, after a leadoff single from Donaldson.
Kluber earned his second win in as many postseason starts with six and one-third innings of scoreless baseball against the dangerous Blue Jays lineup.
He allowed six hits on the night and walked a pair while striking out six batters. He fired exactly 100 pitches, 71 for strikes. Strangely, all hits allowed by Indians pitching on the night came with at least two strikes on the opposing hitter.
Kluber has started his postseason career with 13 1/3 innings of scoreless October baseball for the Tribe.
Miller earned the hold on Friday after facing six batters and retiring all five outs made via strikeout.
In 14 career postseason innings over nine games, Miller has yet to be credited with a run against him. The only run to score against him in the postseason was an inherited run that scored in his last outing in Game 3 of the ALDS in Boston on Monday.
LINDOR GIVES A LIFT
The homer by Lindor put him in rare company, as the 22-year-old All-Star became just the third shortstop in Major League history to hit at least two home runs prior to turning 23.
CHISENHALL CRUISING ALONG
Chisenhall had three hits on the night for the Indians in three at bats and is hitting .529 in his career in the postseason over five games.
ESTRADA DEALT COMPLETE GAME DEFEAT
It was the first time that Estrada had gone the distance in a game this season. He came close in his first start of the postseason, but left two outs short of the mark against the Texas Rangers.
He was credited with eight innings in the complete game loss, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts, needing 101 pitches (70 strikes) to get through a well-pitched outing that came down to just one mistake.
TRAVIS TWEAKS KNEE
Toronto second baseman Travis exited the game in the fifth inning after hurting his right knee while covering first base. He had previously injured the same knee and missed each of the last two games of the ALDS. Following the game, he indicated that the knee was hurting quite a bit and that he had felt a sharp pain.
Former Indians star Andre Thornton threw out the first pitch of the ALCS on Friday. Thornton also had loose ties to Canadian baseball, as he spent half of the 1976 season as a member of the defunct Montreal Expos before his trade to Cleveland for Jackie Brown.
The Indians and Blue Jays will pick things up at 4:00 PM ET from Progressive Field on Saturday afternoon.
Josh Tomlin will start for the Tribe in Game 2, moving up a game in the rotation to fill in for the injured Trevor Bauer, who needed stitches to close a laceration on his right pinkie finger that was suffered in an off the field accident while working on one of his drones. Tomlin will hope to quiet another potent offense in the same manner that he did the Boston Red Sox on Monday in Game 3 of the ALDS. Tomlin lasted five innings at Fenway Park, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts while earning the series-clinching win.
J.A. Happ will take the mound for Toronto. The 33-year-old left-hander, who will turn 34 on Wednesday, is coming off of a 20-4 season with a 3.18 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Happ gave the Blue Jays a win in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rangers after holding Texas to a run over five innings on the mound.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images