Cleveland's defense came up big in ALCS Game 1 shutout victory
Great baseball teams do the little things well. Lineups and starting pitching get all the glory, but in many cases, it's things like baserunning, bullpens and defense that elevate teams to the next level.
Cleveland's bullpen has (rightfully) garnered a lot of positive attention. In the ALDS against Boston, the big three in Cleveland's bullpen -- Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and Dan Otero -- pitched eight scoreless innings in just three games. But another "little thing" showed up in an exciting way during Game 1 of the ALCS against Toronto: defense.
According to FanGraphs' defensive metrics, Cleveland's defense was the best in the American League during the regular season. Friday night's game was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth, and two plays early in the game helped ensure that Toronto would not be the ones to break that scoreless tie.
In the top of third, Toronto left fielder
Two Blue Jays would reach base later that inning, but none would score, thanks to Kluber's cat-like reflexes in successfully completing that barehanded play.
The following inning,
Pillar almost beat it out and, if he had, perhaps Toronto would have finally pushed a run across. Instead, Kluber retired the next batter to end the inning and the Blue Jays' offensive threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Cleveland shortstop