CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor plays the game of baseball with the excitement of a little leaguer…and that’s a very good thing.
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 in the bottom of the sixth inning, and that blast proved to be the game winner in front of the Cleveland faithful.
“Oh, man, it was unreal,” Lindor said. “I thought 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? Unreal. I just tried to go with the flow. I celebrated like it was a walk-off.”
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.
“I'm just trying to play the game, have fun, enjoy it,” Lindor said. “Nobody is counting on us, so there's no pressure. We're just trying to do our thing, play the game the right way. We all have a different role and Kluber has his role. I have a different role. I'm doing it. If we all do our role, we'll be successful.”
Although Lindor is just 22 years old with less than 250 regular-season games of experience at the Major League level to his credit, he has proven adept at making clutch plays, just as he did in Game 1 against the Blue Jays. But rather than take all of the credit, Lindor spreads the wealth to his teammates and coaches for helping him develop his game.
“I owe it to my teammates, coaching staff, my dad and the people that I work with in the offseason,” Lindor said. “There are so many people helping me in my career, it's not because of me. Yeah, I go out there and I'm the one performing, but behind the scenes, there's a lot of people helping me, helping me with my mind, helping me with my fielding, hitting, everything.”