CLEVELAND — Boom! Bang! Pow! Nine pitches, three homers, one devastating inning.
Back in October’s spotlight, the Cleveland Indians rocked Rick Porcello for three long balls in the third inning in their AL Division Series opener. Francisco Lindor’s homer capped the rampage off the 22-game winner, and the Indians held on to beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Thursday night.
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.
After skipping down the third-base line and touching home plate, Lindor pointed toward the starry sky.
“If this is what October’s like, I want to do this every year,” Lindor said. “I didn’t even know where I was. I was just jumping and screaming.”
Before a sea of red-towel waving, screaming fans, the Indians got a jump 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 Farrell went onto the field to question plate umpire Brian Knight.
Pedroia had a few words for first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi and then fired his helmet in disgust on his way into the dugout.
Later, Boston’s fiery second baseman regretted his actions.
“I went, but I just was frustrated with the situation,” he said. “I’ll apologize to Phil tomorrow for giving him a piece of my mind.”
Ortiz went 1 for 4 with a double in the first game of his final postseason.
Cleveland unloaded on Porcello in the third, connecting for the three homers that shook Progressive Field.
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.
“After the first one it was exciting,” Kipnis said. “After mine it was even kind of getting nuts in there. And the third one our dugout was kind of losing it. We played with a lot of energy. We played with a lot of emotion. That’s the way our team goes. We’ve got up and down the lineup, 25 guys who are baseball players who love to compete and we ride the waves.
“And that was a pretty high one.”
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 .
Francona extended both Miller and Allen knowing the importance of winning the opener.
“We’ll take inventory of what we got,” he said. “You’re certainly not going to see the same exact way tomorrow. But we wanted to win the game tonight and we did. Tomorrow might have to be a little bit different design.”
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.
“I saw the ball kept carrying,” Perez. I think he kind of hesitated to throw it back or probably didn’t know I was going to tag up,” Perez said of Benintendi. “I normally don’t do that. I was taking advantage of the situation. I did it on my own. It worked out for us. We scored a run.”
The winning pitcher in the 2016 All-Star Game, Kluber will make his postseason debut in Game 2. He was on the roster when Cleveland was a wild-card team in 2013, but didn’t pitch.
“I’m sure there will be some nerves,” Kluber said. “But at the same time, I get nervous if it’s a live practice in spring training. It just means you care.”
The 2014 AL Cy Young winner will start on 10 days rest after straining his right quadriceps on Sept. 26 at Detroit. Kluber admits he won’t know if the injury is healed until he steps on the mound, but he has thrown two bullpen sessions without issues.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (strained forearm) was sent to the team’s training complex in Goodyear, Arizona, to build up his arm strength. Salazar has been out since Sept. 9. He, too, could be available in the next round.