CLEVELAND -- There’s just something different about second-year shortstop Francisco Lindor, and the Cleveland Indians are grateful for that.
Lindor has a nearly ever-present smile and celebrates every good play that he and/or one of his teammates makes during the course of a game, and that energy level continued in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field Friday night.
Lindor shared a jubilant celebration with his teammates following a two-run home run off of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, a blast that proved to be the game winner in a 2-0 victory in front of the Cleveland faithful.
“Frankie, he's a strong kid,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He's kind of wiry. I mean, at some point, somebody was going to have to hit a change-up just because of the way he was going back and forth. I actually thought he threw maybe more fastballs early than we expected.
“But his change-up is so good you can look for it and still not hit it. It might be the best change-up in the game. There's deception to go with it. Frankie has good, strong hands, and sometimes, you get a change-up up a little bit and they'll tend to go out.”
In his first career ALCS game, Lindor went two for four with the home run, two RBI and one run scored, and he made just as big of an impact on the game with his glove behind starter Corey Kluber and relief pitchers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
Lindor started a double play that got Kluber out of a jam in the top of the second inning, had three other defensive assists and one put out.
That success in Game 1 came on the heels of a standout performance in a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series, where Lindor registered three hits, including one double and a solo home run.
“He's got a ton of talent,” Francona said. “I just think you can tell how much he enjoys playing the game. Shoot, if I had his ability, I'd feel confident too.
“On the baseball field, that's where he's most comfortable. And you can tell he's enjoying himself. And what's probably even better is as good a player he is, he's probably a better kid. That's saying something.”