MLB Playoffs: Indians win Game 1 of ALCS on Francisco Lindor HR

MLB Playoffs: Indians win Game 1 of ALCS on Francisco Lindor HR


CLEVELAND -- When the ball disappeared over the outfield wall, Francisco Lindor raised his right fist and took off.

Smiling with every stride, Cleveland's superstar-in-the-making shortstop sprinted around the bases like he was being chased.

He and the Indians aren't slowing down for anything this October.

Lindor hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and Corey Kluber silenced Toronto's booming bats, giving the Indians a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series on Friday night.

Lindor connected on an 0-2 changeup from Marco Estrada and tore around the basepaths as the bend-but-don't-break Indians won their fourth straight playoff game in this most unexpected season.

"I believe in my team. I believe in what we have," said Lindor, the talented 22-year-old who plays as if he's been part of postseason games for a decade. "We're just trying to do our thing."

Kluber, Cleveland's solid and stoic ace, pitched 6 1/3 spotless innings before manager Terry Francona turned things over to the Indians' best weapon -- their bullpen. Andrew Miller made the Blue Jays look silly , striking out five of the six batters he faced, and closer Cody Allen got the save with a perfect ninth as the Indians extended their longest postseason winning streak since 1920.

The Blue Jays wasted some early scoring chances -- they had six runners in the first three innings -- against Kluber and their frustration only grew as the night went on. Toronto slugger Jose Bautista struck out three times and Edwin Encarnacion lost his cool when he was fanned in the eighth, jawing at plate umpire Laz Diaz.

"It wasn't like we faced the average Joe out there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Kluber. "He's one of the elite pitchers in the game, as is Miller, as is Allen. We got some guys on base early. We couldn't get that big hit."

After getting their first ALCS win since 2007, the Indians will try to take a 2-0 lead Saturday with Josh Tomlin facing Toronto's 20-game winner, J.A. Happ. Tomlin was originally scheduled to start Game 3, but was moved up when Trevor Bauer sustained an odd injury as he sliced open his right pinkie while repairing a drone.

Kluber kept flying in the postseason.

The right-hander has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 innings this October and he kept the Blue Jays inside Progressive Field after they teed off against the Texas Rangers in the Division Series.

Estrada carried a four-hit shutout into the sixth before walking Jason Kipnis with one out. Lindor was in an 0-2 hole before the shortstop, who could become a household name before this series ends, drove his homer over the wall in right-center and ran like Usain Bolt wearing a Chief Wahoo cap.

"I thought (Kevin) Pillar was going to catch it," Lindor said. "As soon as it went out, I put my hands out. I looked at the dugout and everybody was going insane."

Estrada allowed six hits in Toronto's first complete game all year, but made one costly mistake.

"I was trying to bounce it, to be honest with you," Estrada said. "Good hitters are going to hit it out and he's a good hitter."

Kluber dodged some early trouble and held the Blue Jays, who hit eight home runs and scored 22 times in their ALDS sweep of Texas, to six hits in the first six innings. The Indians needed every out they could get from Kluber, who shut out Boston for seven innings in his postseason debut 10 days after he injured a quadriceps in a start against Detroit.

The 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner, who will certainly get votes this season after winning 18 games, has been the only dependable starter all season for Cleveland, which lost Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar to injuries in September and is now dealing with Bauer's bizarre mishap.

"I laughed when I heard," Kipnis said. "I don't care, as long as he can pitch for us. It's not as funny if he can't pitch. If he can, (I'll tell him), `You're an idiot, but go get some outs for us now.'"

Odds and ends
Kluber became the fifth pitcher to throw at least six scoreless innings in his first two postseason starts. The others were Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson (1905), Joe Niekro (1980-1981), Dave Righetti (1981) and Steve Avery (1991). . Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall went 3 for 3 and owns a franchise-best .529 batting average in five career playoff games. . Cleveland OF Coco Crisp equaled the LCS record with two sacrifice bunts. . Toronto's only other postseason complete game was by Jack Morris in the opener of the 1992 ALCS.

Comeback kid
Blue Jays lefty Francisco Liriano will be eligible to pitch Saturday after recovering from a concussion sustained in the ALDS when he was struck in the head by a line drive. Toronto played with a 24-man roster in the opener as Liriano remained in baseball's seven-day concussion protocol. As a result, RHP Marcus Stroman -- Toronto's projected starter in Game 3 -- was available in relief for Game 1.

Trainer's room
Travis will have an MRI on Saturday after re-injuring his right knee when covering first base in the fifth. He sat out the final two games of the Division Series with a bone bruise and is worried it's worse.

"It hurts pretty bad," he said. "I jarred my knee a little bit. I felt a sharp pain in my knee."

Up next
Blue Jays: Happ struck out 11 and allowed one run over seven innings in beating the Indians on July 3. He was second in the AL in wins, going 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA. Happ picked up the victory in Game 2 of the ALDS against Texas, allowing one run in five innings.

Indians: Tomlin gave up three homers -- to Martin, Melvin Upton Jr. and Encarnacion -- in a loss to the Blue Jays on Aug. 20. Tomlin went 0-5 in August, but has bounced back and given up seven earned runs in 31 2/3 innings over his last six appearances.

Phillies' opening day roster decisions not getting any easier

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Phillies' opening day roster decisions not getting any easier


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies are going down to the wire with their opening day roster decisions.

Manager Gabe Kapler & Co. got another look at pitcher Drew Hutchison and bench candidates Jesmuel Valentin and Roman Quinn on Saturday in a game against the Tigers in Lakeland. None of the three hurt their chances of making the club in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.

Hutchison, a Lakeland native, pitched four scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and survived three walks. He struck out three, including Miguel Cabrera with runners on second and third with one out in the third inning. 

Hutchison, 27, made 74 starts from 2012 to 2016 with the Blue Jays and Pirates. He spent all of last season with the Pirates’ Triple A club and signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies last month. The Phillies have given the right-hander a good look and he has responded well. He has given up 12 hits and six runs in 19 2/3 innings for a 2.75 ERA. However, he has walked eight while registering 17 strikeouts.

Hutchison’s best chance to make the club could be as a long man in the bullpen. Ben Lively is also in the running for that job. Jake Thompson could also be in the picture. He is converting to the bullpen but has built up his pitch counts.

Valentin, a strong candidate for a utility job, started at first base with a borrowed mitt from Rhys Hoskins. Valentin has a first baseman’s mitt and a catcher's mitt on order. He could be the emergency third catcher. Valentin had a good game. He made a nice defensive play and had two hits and a walk. He has played seven positions this spring.

Quinn had two hits, scored a run and swiped three bases. He could open with the big club or be sent to Triple A for playing time. He has impressed Kapler with his electricity and figures to impact the big club at some point, maybe as soon as opening day.

Scott Kingery had two more hits, raising his average to .392 (20 for 51). He will likely open in Triple A but could be up by the third weekend of the season. Delaying his arrival until then would push his potential free agency back until after 2024.

• Rhys Hoskins stayed back in Clearwater and got a bunch of at-bats in a pair of minor-league games. He swatted a pair of opposite-field homers in a Triple A game.

The Phillies host the Orioles on Saturday. Nick Pivetta will start.

Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

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Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies have announced their plan for Jake Arrieta.

He will make his regular season debut on April 8 at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins.

That is a Sunday afternoon game.

Arrieta has a career ERA of 3.28 in day games as opposed to 3.77 in night games. Opposing batters have hit just .214 against him over his career in day games.

“He loves pitching in day games,” manager Gabe Kapler said in announcing the plan for Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies on March 12.

Even though Arrieta showed up to camp in excellent shape and had been throwing on his own, the Phillies had promised to be cautious in getting him ready for the regular season. Arrieta will start Tuesday in Clearwater then pitch again on April 2, probably against minor leaguers in Clearwater, before his debut against Miami.

Arrieta had hoped to pitch during the first week of the season. The way things line up, he will miss just one start. The Phillies could stash him on the disabled list as he builds arm strength until they activate him before the April 8 game.

“Jake’s on board with this,” Kapler said. “He’s such a competitive dude, he wants to get out there immediately. But he has a strong understanding of the long view and what will keep him healthy and strong over the whole season and through the next three or four years. He understood that the best thing for his body is to build up a little more and get a nice slow, easy ramp and come out firing for us on April 8 against the Marlins.”

Arrieta has made four lifetime starts against Miami. He is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in those games. Over 26 innings, he’s allowed four runs and 16 hits while walking four and striking out 26.

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. The order of the rotation is unclear after that, though the Phillies could get by with four starters until Arrieta is ready. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez will be in the rotation. Zach Eflin, Ben Lively or Drew Hutchison could round out the rotation during the first seven games. Lively or Hutchison could also work out of the bullpen.

Pivetta will start against the Orioles on Sunday.