CLEVELAND -- Known for their patience at the plate and aggressiveness on the base paths, the Cleveland Indians used their power to hit three home runs in the bottom of the third inning against Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox.
That power surge proved to be too much for the Red Sox to overcome, and the Indians rode that momentum to a 5-4 win in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at a jam-packed Progressive Field Thursday night.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis smacked the second of the three homers in the third, and he finished his second-ever playoff game three for four with two RBI and a run scored. Also, catcher Roberto Perez, the No. 9 hitter in Cleveland’s lineup, had a home run, scored twice and went two for three at the plate.
With Indians starter Trevor Bauer lasting just 4.2 innings, the bullpen pitched around some trouble against Boston’s potent lineup and limited the Red Sox to just one run over 4.1 innings of relief.
The Red Sox literally came out swinging against the Indians in the top of the first inning.
After being down in the count, 1-2, against Indians starter Trevor Bauer, second baseman Dustin Pedroia belted a double to the wall in right field to lead off the game. Then, Pedroia moved over to third base when fellow infielder Brock Holt singled to right field.
After Bauer struck out right fielder Mookie Betts swinging and got designated hitter David Ortiz to foul out to first baseman Mike Napoli, infielder Hanley Ramirez smoked the first pitch he saw into center field for an RBI double.
On the Ramirez hit, Pedroia scored easily and Holt was called safe at the plate despite an on-the-mark relay from throw from shortstop Francisco Lindor. However, Indians catcher Roberto Perez urged manager Terry Francona to challenge, and he did. A short review of the play showed Perez tagged Holt before he touched home plate, and that out ended the inning.
Although the Red Sox scored first, the Indians had an answer in the bottom of the second inning and drew even at 1-1.
Clutch-hitting third baseman Jose Ramirez smashed a 3-2 pitch from Porcello off the base of the wall in center field and motored into second base with a stand-up double to lead off the inning.
Then, after fouling off the first two offerings from Porcello, outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall smacked a single to center field that brought around Ramirez. The relay throw was off the mark at home plate, but Boston catcher Sandy Leon instinctually fired the ball down to second base to play a play on Chisenhall.
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Originally, Chisenhall was ruled safe, but the Red Sox challenged and won when replay showed that Chisenhall did not hold the base throughout the entirety of his slide.
Although the Indians had an early response, the game did not remain tied for long, as Boston took a 2-1 lead with a lead-off home run in the top of the third inning.
Ahead in the count, 3-0, against Bauer, Red Sox rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi took a called strike, and then, smashed his first career postseason round-tripper into the seats in right field on the next pitch.
However, Bauer responded by setting down the Nos. 1-3 hitters in Boston’s lineup down in order after the lead-off homer to limit the damage to just the one run.
The Indians saw Benintendi’s round-tripper and raised him three when they belted three solo home runs of their own in the bottom of the third inning and took a 4-2 lead over the Red Sox.
Down by a 2-1 count after Bauer gave up the solo home run in the top half of the inning, the Indians quickly got back even when catcher Roberto Perez, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, took a 3-2 pitch from Porcello over the wall in right field.
Two batters later, after taking a called first strike, second baseman Jason Kipnis smashed his first postseason home run over the wall in right field. Then, shortstop Francisco Lindor kept everyone in the park on their feet and celebrating when he belted his first career playoff home run over the wall in right field.
Sandy Leon, Boston’s catcher and No. 8 hitter, smashed a lead-off home run to center field and drew the Red Sox to within a run of the Indians, 4-3, in the top of the fifth inning.
Then, after Bauer got two straight outs, manager Terry Francona made the call to the bullpen for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.
Despite Holt doubling to deep center field and right fielder Mookie Betts working his way to a walk following a seven-pitch at-bat after being down in the count, 1-2, Miller faced off against one of the best hitters in postseason history in Ortiz.
Behind in the count, 2-1, Miller evened it up with a called second strike, and then, got Ortiz out swinging to end the threat.
The Indians gave up a run in the top of the fifth inning, but they got it back in the bottom of the frame and built a 5-3 lead over the Red Sox.
Perez led off the inning with a long single to the left-field corner and advanced to second base on a fly out from designated hitter Carlos Santana. Perez came around to score on an RBI single to center field from Kipnis.
Holt belted a lead-off home run to right field and drew the Red Sox to within a run of the Indians, 5-4, in the top of the eighth inning, but that was as close as they would get to tying the game.