(The Sports Xchange) - The Cleveland Indians have a standard formula for winning, and Friday night all of it was on display: strong starting pitching, timely hitting and a lockdown bullpen.
Francisco Lindor’s two-run homer in the sixth inning accounted for all of the runs as the Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber pitched 6 1/3 innings and combined with two relievers on a seven-hit shutout.
“It wasn’t like we faced the average Joe out there and he struggled,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Kluber is one of the elite pitchers in the game.”
Relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen followed Kluber to the mound and the three Cleveland pitchers combined to retire 17 of the last 19 Toronto hitters to end the game.
“That needs to be one of our strengths if we are going to get where we want to go,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of his bullpen.
Toronto’s Marco Estrada pitched a complete game, giving up six hits, with five strikeouts and one walk.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Jason Kipnis drew a walk. Estrada then got ahead in the count 0-2 on Lindor. But the Indians’ All-Star shortstop hit Estrada’s next pitch over the wall in center field for a home run.
Kluber pitched into and out of trouble in the early going but kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard. Kluber threw 100 pitches, 71 of them strikes. He struck out six and walked two. He gave way to Miller with one out in the seventh inning.
Miller pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings on one hit, striking out five of the six batters he faced. Allen retired the side in the ninth in order without a ball leaving the infield.
In Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, Cleveland will send Josh Tomlin to the mound against Toronto’s J.A. Happ.
The Blue Jays made Kluber work in the early innings. They had two base runners in each of the first three innings but was able to hold them to 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Devon Travis was removed from the game in the fifth inning with an apparent leg injury suffered while he was covering first base on a bunt attempt. Travis missed Games 3 and 4 of the AL Division Series against Texas with a right knee bruise.
Compiled by Amlan Chakraborty