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.
“After the first one, it was exciting,” Kipnis said. “After mine, it was even kind of getting nuts in there. And the third one, our dugout was kind of losing it. We played with a lot of energy. We played with a lot of emotion.”
Down by a 2-1 count after starter Trevor Bauer gave up a 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, 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.
“That's the way our team goes,” Kipnis said. “We've got up and down the lineup, 25 guys who are baseball players who love to compete and we ride the waves. And that was a pretty high one, starting with Roberto with a great at-bat.”
The Indians’ dugout was not the only thing rocking after the three home runs in the third inning.
The 37,763 red-towel waving fans literally shook the ballpark with jubilation after Kipnis and Lindor finished off the three home run inning by going back-to-back against Porcello, hits that put the Indians in front of Boston for good.
“They came with it,” Kipnis said of the fans. “I think it was different for me than it was for the crowd. The crowd was fantastic both times out. I think in '13, the first time around, I might have built it up to be a little too much -- made it too hard on myself. I gripped it too tight and the nerves got the best of me.
“This time around, with just the way the ball clubs played, I was able to settle in. Having a series instead of a nine-inning game, you don't have to press as much. It's the next series on the schedule, and I thought we did a great job of treating it that way.
“In terms of the crowd, the red towels were out just like last time, and they were loud when they needed to be, and loud when they didn't need to be, and that's just exactly what you want out of a hometown crowd.”