Stellar pitching from Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and a home run from Francisco Lindor gave the Cleveland Indians a 2-0 victory and early edge in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada was cruising through the first five innings. He gave up just four singles and had Cleveland hitters off-balance with an outstanding fastball-changeup combination. 

The Indians struck in the sixth with Jason Kipnis drawing a five-pitch walk. Lindor got down 0-2 in the count before waiting back on a changeup from Estrada that carried over the center field fence for a 2-0 lead on a night when balls had been dying in the outfield. 

That would be the lone blemish on Estrada’s resume for the evening. Toronto’s starter finished with a complete game, allowing just six hits, two runs with six strikeouts and one walk on 101 pitches. 

Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of, Estrada’s loss was particularly tough because he did something no Toronto pitcher had done in 2016:

Per ESPN Stats & Info, it’s been nearly 20 years since the Indians have had a homer like the one Lindor provided:

Per Cespedes Family BBQ, it’s possible that you may have felt the earth shake wherever you were following Lindor’s blast:

Kluber continued his postseason magnificence for the Tribe. After throwing seven scoreless innings against Boston in the division series, the 2014 American League Cy Young winner added to his early playoff resume, with Zack Meisel of providing his stat line so far this October:

The Blue Jays did have opportunities against Kluber that they were unable to take advantage of, particularly early. They had two runners on base in each of the first three innings, but they came up empty-handed. 

Falling behind didn’t appear to be a problem for Toronto hitters, with August Fagerstrom of FanGraphs noting they did something against Kluber virtually no one did in the regular season:

For the Blue Jays, though, their woes with runners in scoring position that disappeared against Texas in the division series came back Friday night. Per’s Jerry Crasnick, Toronto was 24th overall with a .249 average with runners in scoring position. 

The Blue Jays finished with seven hits, six of them singles. Edwin Encarnacion had the hardest-hit ball of the night, a frozen-rope double in the top of the first that sent Josh Donaldson to third base with one out. 

Kluber got out of it by striking out Jose Bautista, and Russell Martin grounded out to end the inning. In total, the Blue Jays went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in Game 1. 

This was the perfect setup for Cleveland, as Kluber was able to work deep in the game, and Lindor’s blast allowed manager Terry Francona to use the bullpen exactly how he wanted. 

Andrew Miller relieved Kluber in the top of the seventh and proceeded to record five outs, doing so in pretty much the way you would expect, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

After recording all of his outs via strikeout,’s Andrew Simon noted Miller did something that hasn’t been done in 11 years:

Per ESPN’s Christopher Crawford, Miller has been otherworldly since 2013:

Following Miller’s exit, Cody Allen came in to close things out. He battled his command against the Red Sox in Game 3 on Monday, throwing 19 strikes on 40 pitches before ultimately getting the save. 

There were no such issues against the Blue Jays on this night for Allen. He needed just 11 pitches to record the save and leave the Indians three wins away from their first World Series appearance since 1997. 

Looking at Game 2, though, the Indians will likely have to get more out of their offense if they want to avoid going to Toronto tied at one game. Josh Tomlin will get the start in place of Trevor Bauer after the team announced Bauer suffered a cut on his pinkie finger that required stitches.

Francona’s management of the bullpen will be interesting because Miller did need over 30 pitches to record those five strikeouts, so he may not be available for as many outs as he was tonight. 

The Blue Jays just have to take advantage of their opportunities because they had a chance to blow this game open early. Kluber was able to work around trouble, but their bats will not go quietly, and manager John Gibbons didn’t have to use anyone out of his bullpen tonight. 


Postgame Reaction

Lindor’s trot around the bases allowed Kipnis to try explaining what it feels like when Cleveland’s star shortstop hits one over the fence. 

“The whole world turns into a trampoline,” Kipnis said, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Francona didn’t have a metaphor like that to describe Lindor, though he did offer his best summation of what makes the 22-year-old such a unique asset. 

“He’s got a ton of talent,” Francona said, per’s Jordan Bastian and Gregor Chisholm. “I just think you can tell how much he enjoys playing the game. Shoot, if I had his ability, I’d feel confident, too.”

Lindor was also asked about hitting the homer, his second of the postseason, per Bastian and Chisholm:

Oh, man, it was unreal. First of all, I thought [center fielder Kevin Pillar] was going to catch it. As soon as it went out, I put my hands out and said, ‘Thank God.’ And I looked at the dugout and everybody was going insane. And the crowd today — unreal. I just tried to go with the flow. I celebrated like it was a walk-off.

Kluber, the other hero for Cleveland in Game 1, earned high marks from Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. 

“He’s got arguably the best right-hand breaking ball in the game,” Gibbons said, per Bastian and Chisholm. “And he kept us honest with enough fastballs. And he’s got that razor-blade slider that’s tough to do anything with. [It’s] a big strikeout pitch for him. He gets a lot of weak contact on them, really.”

Never one to accept credit for his own work, Kluber gave praise to the job done by Miller and Allen after he left the game. 

“If we can get deep in a ballgame and get a lead to our bullpen,” Kluber said, per Bastian and Chisholm, “I feel like we have a really good shot. Those guys have all been doing an unbelievable job down there [in the bullpen]. That’s our game planto try to get them a lead and let them go out and do their thing.”

It’s been a winning formula so far for the Indians. To get to the World Series, they must continue to do it.

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