CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians started the 2017 Major League Baseball Playoffs on a winning note.
Behind a strong pitching performance from 17-game winner Trevor Bauer and timely hitting from outfielder Jay Bruce, the Indians earned a 4-0 victory over the Yankees in front of a sold-out crowd at Progressive Field Thursday night and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Bauer set a new single-game playoff best with eight strikeouts, and allowed just two hits and one walk over 6.2 innings of work on the way to his first playoff win. Bauer registered three of his strikeouts against Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who belted 52 home runs during the regular season.
While Bauer was dealing on the mound, Bruce was putting in a solid day’s work at the plate.
Bruce led off the second inning with a double off of the scoreboard in left field, and after he smashed the Sonny Gray pitch, first baseman Carlos Santana singled to center field, which moved Bruce up to third base.
After left fielder Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch, catcher Roberto Perez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, but that drove in Bruce for the game’s first run and a 1-0 lead.
After doubling off of the wall in left field in his first at-bat, Bruce one-upped himself with a hit over the wall in right in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion on with a lead-off walk, Bruce belted a 94-mile-per-hour fastball from Gray into the seats in right field for a two-run home run, which gave the Indians a 3-0 lead over The Bronx Bombers.
But Bruce was far from done making his mark on the game.
In his third at-bat, Bruce smashed an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, which scored second baseman Jose Ramirez and gave the Indians a 4-0 lead over the New York Yankees in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 1 of the 2017 American League Division Series.
Down in the count, 0-2, against reliever Adam Warren, Bruce watched as three straight sliders sailed out of the strike zone, including one that bounced free in front of the batter’s box, which moved Ramirez from second base to third, and then, smacked a fastball to center field for the sacrifice.
The Indians will send Kluber to the mound in Game 2 with a chance to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, and he will do battle with one-time Cleveland ace, CC Sabathia.