The Cleveland Indians defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS Thursday night in Cleveland.
It almost took until midnight, but the Cleveland Indians won a postseason game for the first time since 2007 with a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
There are so many storylines emerging from this Game 1 victory, but the use of the bullpen by Terry Francona is what stands out the most. The trio of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen all appeared Thursday night, but the play of Miller and Allen was what kept the Indians in the game with a chance to win.
Miller came on in the fifth inning to relieve Trevor Bauer, who allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings. Seeing Miller in the fifth was an odd sight, but Francona knows the playoffs are much different than the regular season, throwing all conventional rules out the window.
Miller ended up going two full innings, allowing one hit and striking out four batters. He finished with 40 pitches, but with Corey Kluber starting Game 2, it was a great move by Francona to stick with Miller.
Shaw only made it 2/3 innings, allowing a home run, but he was still able to hold the lead before turning it over to Allen. Like Miller, Allen threw 40 pitches and struck out four batters, which includes the game-winning strikeout of Dustin Pedroia.
Bauer did his job, but it was somewhat expected that Francona would go to the bullpen early. He can get away with getting a lot of work out of Miller and Allen, given Kluber can go six or seven Friday afternoon. That is a lot to ask of someone in a postseason game, but Kluber has been the ace all season and deserves that trust. Also, winning Game 1 is a huge advantage so putting the best players on the field to win it is completely understandable.
The pitching was great, but the five runs scored by the offense are what ultimately got the win. The scoring got started early with a Lonnie Chisenhall double to tie the game 1-1 in the second inning, but the third inning was when the magic happened.
Roberto Perez, who finished 2-3 with two runs scored, hit a home run to begin the bottom of the third. Two batters later, Jason Kipnis hit a home run of his own, followed by another from Francisco Lindor, effectively causing total mayhem in the confines of Progressive Field. It gave the Indians the lead, which was never relinquished.
But the most notable run of the game was the fifth and final run, scored by Perez in the bottom of the fifth.
After starting the inning with a single, Perez tagged up on a fly ball to left field and made it to second, putting himself in scoring position with just one out. A Kipnis single brought Perez home, making him the unlikely difference in the base running aspect of the game.
Francona has a lot of decisions to make regarding his pitching staff before Friday’s game, but getting this Game 1 victory is the perfect start to the postseason. The offense drilled Rick Porcello and the defense held its own, giving the Indians an all-around team win. Nothing new for fans who have been following this team all year.