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Closing Time: Indians hammer RIck Porcello, ride strong bullpen to win in Game 1 of ALDS

10.06.16 at 11:42 pm ET

CLEVELAND — The Red Sox will not roll into the American League Championship Series after all. They officially have a fight on their hands.

Expected to romp through the undermanned Indians, the Sox instead watched the hosts feed off the energy of their home crowd, drill three home runs off Cy Young candidate Rick Porcello, and gut out four-plus innings of relief to deal the Red Sox a 5-4 loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

Game 2 is Friday afternoon, with David Price taking on Corey Kluber in a battle of former Cy Young winners.

“Hey, listen, this is not over yet,” said DH David Ortiz. “We’ve got plenty of games to play. I’m going to bring my best tomorrow. That’s how I am. And I’m pretty sure my teammates will, too, so see you mañana.”

The Indians didn’t win 94 games because they’re pushovers, and they pushed back against the supposed inevitability of a Red Sox sweep in a big way on Thursday night.

Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor blasted solo homers in the span of four batters in the third inning, turning a 2-1 Red Sox lead into a 4-2 deficit as the sellout crowd at Progressive Field erupted.

The Red Sox, who got homers from Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon, rallied within a run, but drew no closer. Andrew Miller and the Indians bullpen combined to limit the Red Sox to a run over the final four-plus innings.

By that point, Cleveland had surprisingly won the starting pitching battle, with right-hander Trevor Bauer dancing in and out of trouble, but nonetheless limiting the Red Sox to three runs in 4 2/3 innings. He out-pitched Porcello, who was rocked for six hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.

Home-field advantage loomed large in this one. The Tribe didn’t clinch until the Red Sox finale, and they exploited their largest, most raucous crowd of the season to give the Red Sox a taste of how they posted the best home record in the American League (53-28).

The predictions of a Red Sox romp looked solid, however, when Dustin Pedroia doubled and Brock Holt singled him to third leading off the game. Bauer settled down to strike out Mookie Betts and pop up David Ortiz, but Hanley Ramirez drilled what looked like a two-run double to center before replay determined Holt was tagged out at the plate.

The Indians tied it in the second on a Jose Ramirez double and Lonnie Chisenhall singles, but the Red Sox took the lead back on Andrew Benintendi’s solo homer in his first postseason at-bat.

That set the stage for a very loud third that featured Cleveland’s three long balls, sending Indians fans into a frenzy and the Red Sox into a 1-0 series hole with Game 2 looming.

Closing Time note

At 22 years and 92 days, Andrew Benintendi became the youngest Red Sox player to homer in franchise history.


— Benintendi made his first postseason swing one to remember, blasting a home run 408 feet in the third to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

— Manager John Farrell made a crucial challenge in the second. Chisenhall ripped an RBI single to center and took second on the throw home but was ruled out for oversliding the bag.

— Leon picked a good time to regain his August form by blasting a solo homer that cut Cleveland’s lead to 4-3 in the fifth.

— Third baseman Brock Holt, whose spot in the No. 2 hole was questioned by fans and media, responded with three hits, including a double off of Andrew Miller and a solo homer in the eighth that made it 5-4.


— The Red Sox squandered a golden opportunity in the first, putting runners on the corners with no outs but managing just one run.

— Porcello picked a bad time to get homer-happy. The three the Indians blasted in the span of four batters in the third put the Red Sox in a 4-2 hole. Porcello allowed three homers in two other starts this year, in losses to Baltimore and Seattle. He didn’t finish the fifth inning for the first time this season.

— Summoned to keep a 4-3 deficit from growing, left-hander Drew Pomeranz allowed an RBI single to Jason Kipnis and got lucky when Mike Napoli’s ensuing double bounced into the seats, sending Kipnis back to third.

— Xander Bogaerts looks lost. The shortstop struck out with the tying run on third to end the eighth and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

— Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as well, and misfired on two throws to the plate.

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