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

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

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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.

Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

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Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have hired Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora to be their new manager.

The team made the announcement on Sunday, a day after Cora's Astros reached the World Series.

Cora replaces John Farrell, who was fired this month despite winning back-to-back AL East titles. Farrell's teams won the 2013 World Series, finished last twice and then in each of the past two years won the division but got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager in Red Sox history.

He played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a member of Boston's 2007 World Series team.

Cora has never managed before.

Reports: Mets offer manager job to Indians coach Callaway
NEW YORK — It appears the New York Mets have settled on their choice for a manager.

Several media outlets are reporting the team has offered the job to Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The New York Post was the first to report the Mets were in talks with Callaway, saying a deal is being finalized.

When contacted Sunday, multiple Mets officials declined to comment.

With his contract set to expire, Terry Collins stepped down at the end of the season after seven years as Mets manager and accepted a position as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson.

The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland's pitching coach for the past five seasons under highly successful manager Terry Francona. Led by ace right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians led the major leagues with a 3.30 ERA this season, one year after reaching the World Series.

Callaway has never managed at any professional level.

Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP, and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve, the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."