CLEVELAND -- Big postseason home runs are all about timing. Sometimes literally.Francisco Lindor's 446-foot home off Dallas Keuchel in the fifth inning not only gave the Indians a temporary lead over the Astros in Monday afternoon's 11-3 loss in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, but it also
CLEVELAND -- Big postseason home runs are all about timing. Sometimes literally.
Francisco Lindor's 446-foot home off Dallas Keuchel in the fifth inning not only gave the Indians a temporary lead over the Astros in Monday afternoon's 11-3 loss in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, but it also struck the digital clock that hangs from the walkway above Progressive Field's left-field home run porch. It was believed to be the first dinger to clock the clock, and the timing of the 109.6-mph blast was impeccable for a Tribe team that couldn't keep its season alive.
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Lindor's two-out solo homer -- his second of the ALDS and his longest from the right side of the plate in his career, per Statcast™ -- came on a first-pitch four-seamer and in the bottom half of an inning in which the Astros evened things up at 1 apiece on a George Springer shot off Mike Clevinger.
The long balls were all part of a tense and entertaining tilt filled with frightening fly balls, frayed nerves and frantic home fans with the Indians in an 0-2 hole in the best-of-five set.
There was even some bunting to go with the bunting.
In the third inning, Clevinger pitched himself into a jam. He gave up a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Tony Kemp. Then, with Kemp a stolen-base threat, Clevinger made a pickoff attempt that Edwin Encarnacion could not snare, allowing the runner to reach scoring position. Clevinger struck out Springer but gave up a ground-ball single through the left side to Jose Altuve, putting runners on the corners. He got ahead of the red-hot Alex Bregman but lost the matchup when he plunked Bregman, who had just missed a hanging breaking ball by lining it into the seats down the third-base line, in the left hip with a fastball to load the bases.
Up came Yuli Gurriel, and Clevinger put him away with a beautiful breaking ball that Gurriel swung through for strike three. All that separated Clevinger from escape was Marwin Gonzalez, who smacked a first-pitch four-seamer high and deep to right. The ball just barely went wide of the foul pole, landing in front of Progressive Field's Corner Bar, whose patrons no doubt needed a drink after that sudden scare.
When Gonzalez lined out harmlessly to left, Clevinger had escaped the big threat unscathed. In the bottom of the inning, the Indians got something going against Keuchel with back-to-back singles from Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis. Lindor bunted back to Keuchel to advance the runners before Michael Brantley lifted a fly ball to deep center to score Gomes from third on the sacrifice that brought home the game's first run.
Brantley's sacrifice fly snapped a string of eight consecutive scoreless frames for the Tribe's offense, its first run since Lindor's homer in the third inning of Game 2. Cleveland also scored first in that game and did not win. Including Monday's loss, teams that score first this postseason are 11-2, with both defeats courtesy of the Indians.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.