Indians strike first against Blue Jays

By Sacha Pisani and Joe Rodgers 15 October 2016 73
Indians strike first against Blue Jays

The Cleveland Indians drew first blood in the MLB American League Championship Series after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in game one.

Francisco Lindor settled the contest in Cleveland on Friday, the shortstop launching a two-run homer in the sixth inning to propel the Indians.

Corey Kluber hurled just over six innings with six strikeouts before giving way to Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, in what has become Terry Francona's patented unconventional approach this postseason to hold a lead.



Toronto suffered their first loss and shutout in October as the club struckout 12 times against the Indians pitchers. On three of the strikeouts, however, Jays batters were visibly upset with home plate umpire Laz Diaz on strike three calls. Jose Bautista, Melvin Upton Jr. and Edwin Encarnacion had words with Diaz and even manager John Gibbons walked out to "chat" with Diaz after Encarnacion's strikeout in the eighth inning. 

The Blue Jays had two runners on base in each of the first three innings and failed to score all three times against Kluber. Russell Martin and Devon Travis combined to leave eight runners on base as the duo continues to struggle this postseason (two for 33). Travis could potentially miss time after exiting in the bottom of the fifth inning with an apparent re-injury of his right knee. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney took his place at second base following the injury. 

Blue Jays Marco Estrada starter hurled his first complete game, scattering six hits and striking out six. Unfortunately, he made one mistake with a 78 mph changeup to Lindor in the sixth. Estrada suffered the bad-luck loss but also gave the Jays makeshift bullpen the extra rest it needs as the club deals with injuries to Francisco Liriano and Joaquin Benoit.



Lindor's home run is just the fourth by an Indians shortstop in the franchise's postseason history. It was an estimated 412-foot two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, scoring Jason Kipnis, who had his bat kissed by Francona before reaching on a walk.



Saturday will see the Blue Jays and Indians lock horns again for game two. Toronto will send 20-game winner J.A. Happ to the mound looking to tie the series. The Indians ranked second among playoff teams in runs scored against left-handed pitching during the regular season and led the majors in doubles against southpaws. Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA) takes the mound for the Indians, replacing Trevor Bauer, who cut the outside of his right pinky while repairing his drone. Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs host the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of the National League Championship Series.