CLEVELAND (AP) — Francisco Lindor’s homer capped Cleveland’s three-homer rampage in the third inning against 22-game winner Rick Porcello, and the Indians held on for a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night in their AL Division Series opener.
Lindor, Jason Kipnis and Robert Perez went deep in the third off Porcello, who lasted 4 1/3 innings in his shortest outing this year.
Before a sea of red-towel waving, screaming fans, the Indians landed the first blow in the best-of-5 series against David Ortiz and the AL East champions.
Andrew Miller, acquired by Cleveland in a July trade for an October night like this, pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Summoned by manager Terry Francona earlier than usual, the lefty struck out Ortiz with two on to end the fifth and threw a season-high 40 pitches.
Bryan Shaw gave up a leadoff homer to Boston’s Brock Holt in the eighth that made it 5-4 before Cody Allen struck out Xander Bogaerts with the potential tying run at third to end the inning. Boston put a runner on with two outs in the ninth but Allen fanned Dustin Pedroia on a full-count checked-swing, his 40th pitch, for the save. Pedroia was livid, and Red Sox manager John Farrell went onto the field to question plate umpire Brian Knight.
Ortiz went 1 for 4 with a double in the first game of his final postseason.
Rookie Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also homered for the Red Sox, who will start David Price in Game 2 in the shadows Friday afternoon against Cleveland ace Corey Kluber.
Cleveland unloaded on Porcello in the third, connecting for the three homers in a nine-pitch span.
Perez started the salvo with just his second homer in 82 at-bats at home this season. One out later, Kipnis drove a pitch over the wall in right-center, giving Cleveland a 3-2 lead and sending the raucous crowd of 37,763 into delirium. Kipnis had just finished getting a celebratory ride through the dugout when Lindor’s shot to right barely cleared a leaping attempt by Mookie Betts.
Porcello was clearly rocked by the barrage, and as Progressive Field shook, Boston’s infielders gathered around their ace, who went 11-2 after the All-Star break.
Leon’s homer pulled the Red Sox to 4-3 in the fifth. Francona, who won two World Series with the Red Sox before coming to Cleveland, pulled starter Trevor Bauer for Miller, who hadn’t come in earlier than the sixth all season.
Miller gave up a double and walk before getting Ortiz to swing at a low third strike.
Cleveland tacked on another run in the fifth, helped by Perez’s alert baserunning. The slow-footed catcher tagged and took second on a fly to left and scored on Kipnis’ single to make it 5-3.
Before the game, Farrell was confident Benintendi could handle October’s stage following his rapid rise through the minors — he skipped Triple-A.
Benintendi didn’t show any nerves in his first postseason at-bat, jumping on Bauer for a leadoff homer in the third for a 2-1 lead.
The enigmatic Bauer, who began the season in the bullpen, was in trouble in the first inning but emerged from a two-on, none-out situation only down 1-0.
With two runners at the corners, the right-hander struck out Mookie Betts and retired Ortiz on a foul pop. Hanley Ramirez followed with a single, scoring Pedroia. Holt tried to score from first, but was thrown out at the plate on a relay from shortstop Lindor to Perez, whose sweeping tag caught Boston’s third baseman on the knee.
Holt was initially called safe, but Francona challenged and it was overturned by replay.
BLUE JAYS 10, RANGERS 1
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jose Bautista hit another long, punctuating home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs against the Texas Rangers.
Only this time, Bautista simply dropped the bat softly near home plate and rounded the bases after a 425-foot, three-run blast in the ninth inning of the Blue Jays’ 10-1 romp Thursday in their AL Division Series opener.
“I have a couple of home runs in my career and I think I’ve only flipped it once,” Bautista said. “Just kind of been blown out of proportion because of the moment last year.”
“So I don’t think there was anything too special about laying it down the way I did, because that’s the way that 99.9-plus percent of the time I do it,” he said.
Bautista had that emphatic bat flip after his tiebreaking homer in the ALDS Game 5 clincher last October against the Rangers. The two-time major league homer champion got punched the last time the Blue Jays played in Texas in May.
Bautista drove in four runs this time, including an RBI single in Toronto’s five-run third off All-Star lefty Cole Hamels.
Marco Estrada took a shutout into the ninth inning. The All-Star right-hander with an impressive changeup, who won Game 3 in last year’s ALDS after Toronto lost the first two at home, struck out six without a walk.
“He’s mastered his craft,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s a very calm guy. … He doesn’t get down on himself. As well as he’s pitched in two years here, really no need.”
Estrada has never pitched a complete game in the majors and the Blue Jays didn’t throw one this season. No matter, Estrada gave them all they needed to start this best-of-five series.
“Who cares? We won,” Estrada said.
Game 2 is Friday afternoon at Texas. J.A. Happ starts for the Blue Jays against Yu Darvish.
The last of the Rangers’ four hits off Estrada was Elvis Andrus’ leadoff triple in the ninth. Gibbons removed the right-hander after Shin-Soo Choo’s RBI grounder ended the shutout bid.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a bases-loaded triple for the Blue Jays. Toronto has won four straight overall, including an 11-inning, 5-2 victory over Baltimore in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night that included a home run by Bautista.
Bautista was booed heartily during pregame introductions and while he batted in the first inning. There also were chants of “Rougie! Rougie!” — those were for Rougned Odor, the second baseman who punched Bautista and ignited a bench-clearing brawl in their last meeting May 15. Odor was suspended seven games.
By time Bautista led off the seventh with a walk, the ballpark was quiet with the Rangers down 7-0. After he homered, a fan threw the ball almost back to the infield.
Hamels, the MVP of the 2008 World Series and NLCS for Philadelphia, threw 42 of his 82 pitches in the third. He allowed seven runs (six earned) with three walks in 3 1/3 innings.
“When you give up the amount of runs that I did early in the game, it can kind of deflate anything and everything of what home-field advantage really is,” Hamels said. “It was a major letdown for what I was able to not do.”
Ezequiel Carrera was on second base with two outs in the third when Josh Donaldson hit a liner toward third base. Donaldson, who had four hits, had even stopped running, assuming that Adrian Beltre would catch the ball — instead, the rising liner ricocheted off the mitt of the four-time Gold Glover and into left field for an RBI double that made it 1-0.
Encarnacion then had a single on a liner off Hamels’ outstretched glove, before Bautista’s run-scoring single and Russell Martin’s walk to load the bases.
Tulowitzki followed with a triple deep into the right-center gap on a ball that All-Star center fielder Ian Desmond might have lost when running out of the sun and into the shadows while getting close to the wall during the late afternoon.
“We’d be talking about how great a play it was if he made the catch,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said.
Melvin Upton Jr. homered starting the Toronto fourth before Andrus’ one-out throwing error from shortstop allowed leadoff hitter Devon Travis to reach. Donaldson’s RBI double chased Hamels, and Alex Claudio then pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings.
When Texas had errors on three consecutive plays in that shaky seventh inning of Game 5 last October, leading up to Bautista’s homer, Andrus had two of them. Andrus had misplayed a grounder to start that frame, and dropped an easy toss on what would have been a sure forceout.