CLEVELAND -- Shortstop Francisco Lindor and the Cleveland Indians are turning Progressive Field into “BelieveLand 2.0.”
Often guests of the Cleveland Cavaliers to help rev up the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena during breaks in games in the NBA Playoffs, the Indians are in the midst of their own postseason run. Prior to Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, Lindor asked fans through social media what shoes he should wear.
Agreeing with the fans’ choice, Lindor wore cleats inspired by the city of Cleveland, and then, delivered a two-run home run in the Indians’ 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of a raucous capacity crowd at Progressive Field.
“I had a couple of Under Armour shoes that a guy custom made for me, they say ‘BelieveLand’ on it, and it has the skyline of Cleveland,” Lindor said. “I believe in my team. I believe in my city, and it's cool. It's cool shoes and I believe. I believe in my team. I believe in what we have, the glory is God's. We're just trying to do our thing.”
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 after a walk, shortstop Francisco 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 the pitching staff made stand up.
Prior to Lindor’s home run, the Indians had just four hits and left three runners on base.
“I was just trying to stay down through the middle,” Lindor said. “(Michael) Brantley always tells me, ‘Down through the middle.’ (Carlos) Santana told me, ‘When I see the ball higher, that's why I had to see the ball higher, and stay inside the baseball.’ And that's really what I was trying to do the whole at-bat, I was trying to stay down and through the baseball, see something higher and stay inside the baseball, and it went 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.
“When he first came up, obviously, you could see the talent that he has and stuff,” Kluber said. “But then, to watch him also mature and learn himself, learn the league, things like that, it speaks for itself, his love of play out there.”