When the ball disappeared over the outfield wall, Francisco Lindor raised his right fist and took off.
Smiling with every stride, Cleveland’s superstar-in-the-making shortstop sprinted around the bases as if he was being chased.
He and the Indians aren’t slowing down for anything this October.
Lindor hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, and Corey Kluber silenced Toronto’s booming bats, giving the Indians a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night.
Lindor connected on an 0-2 changeup from Marco Estrada and tore around the basepaths as the bend-but-don’t-break Indians won their fourth straight playoff game in this most unexpected season.
Lindor made good use of the Indians’ resources before his pivotal at-bat, asking designated hitter Carlos Santana for advice on facing Estrada.
Kluber, Cleveland’s ace, pitched 6 1/3 spotless innings before manager Terry Francona turned things over to the Indians’ best weapon — their bullpen. Andrew Miller made the Blue Jays look silly, striking out five of the six batters he faced, and closer Cody Allen earned the save with a perfect ninth as the Indians extended their longest postseason winning streak since 1920.
The Blue Jays wasted some early scoring chances — they had six runners in the first three innings — against Kluber, and their frustration only grew as the night went on. Toronto slugger Jose Bautista struck out three times, and Edwin Encarnacion lost his cool when he was fanned in the eighth, jawing at plate umpire Laz Diaz.
After winning their first ALCS game since 2007, the Indians will try to take a 2-0 lead Saturday with Josh Tomlin facing Toronto’s 20-game winner, J.A. Happ. Tomlin was originally scheduled to start Game 3 but was moved up when Trevor Bauer sustained an odd injury as he sliced open his right pinkie while repairing a drone.
Kluber kept flying in the postseason.
The right-hander has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 innings this October, and he kept the Blue Jays inside Progressive Field after they teed off against the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series.
Estrada carried a four-hit shutout into the sixth before walking Jason Kipnis with one out. Lindor was in an 0-2 hole before the shortstop drove his homer over the wall in right-center.