CLEVELAND -- Behind one swing of the bat from shortstop Francisco Lindor and a combined shutout from Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, the Cleveland Indians earned a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field Friday night.
The Indians will look to protect home-field advantage again tomorrow afternoon when starter Josh Tomlin takes the mound against J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays in Game 2.
Kluber scattered six hits and two walks over 6.1 innings of work in his second-ever postseason start, and in immediate relief, left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller struck out five of the six Blue Jays he faced before turning the ninth inning over to Allen for the save.
Miller struck out the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters in Toronto’s lineup after allowing a lead-off single in the top of the eighth inning. Miller struck out the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters in Toronto’s lineup after allowing a lead-off single in the top of the eighth inning, and Allen followed by setting down the Blue Jays in order in the ninth.
Kluber got off to a good beginning in Game 1 by striking out Blue Jays lead-off hitter Ezequiel Carrera on just three pitches, but one of the most potent lineups in Major League Baseball had an answer for the early success.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson lined a single to center field and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion smashed a double that hit off the base of the wall in deep right field. However, Donaldson held up at third base and did not test a potential play at home plate.
Working with two runners in scoring position and only one out against one of Toronto’s most prolific hitters, Jose Bautista, Kluber settled in, reestablished his strike zone and set down the Blue Jays’ No. 4 batter swinging. Then, he got catcher Russell Martin to ground out to first baseman Mike Napoli for the final out of the inning.
Much like Toronto’s first trip to the plate, Kluber had to work around a pair of Blue Jays base runners with less than two out in the second inning.
Down in the count, 0-2, Toronto designated hitter Michael Saunders hit a one-out single to right field, and then, center fielder Kevin Pillar drew a walk on just five pitches from Kluber. However, against second baseman Devon Travis, Kluber worked from in front and got the No. 9 hitter in Toronto’s lineup to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Kluber again had to work out of a potential jam in the top of the third inning.
After getting two quick outs on an attempted bunt turned groundout to the pitcher’s mound and a pop out to shortstop, Kluber had Encarnacion in the hole at 0-2. But Encarnacion smacked the next offering into center field for the Blue Jays’ fourth hit of the game. Then, Bautista drew a four-pitch walk to put a runner in scoring position for the third straight inning.
Working out of the stretch with the runners on base, Kluber struck out Martin swinging to end Toronto’s third potential rally in as many at-bats.
As Game 1 went on, the Indians began hitting long fly-ball outs, but were unable to push a run across home plate, not until the sixth inning that is.
With second baseman Jason Kipnis on first base after a walk, Lindor hit an 0-2 pitch from Toronto starter Marco Estrada over the wall in right field for his second home run of the postseason, a blast that gave the Indians a 2-0 lead over the Blue Jays.
Prior to Lindor’s home run, the Indians had just four hits and had left three runners on base.
PHOTOS: Check out the sights of the Indians Game 1 ALCS win below: