CLEVELAND -- When Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion left in the first inning of Friday's 9-8, 13-inning win over the Yankees at Progressive Field with a right ankle sprain, manager Terry Francona told Francisco Lindor that it was his job to keep the team fired up."One thing I said to him,"
CLEVELAND -- When Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion left in the first inning of Friday's 9-8, 13-inning win over the Yankees at Progressive Field with a right ankle sprain, manager Terry Francona told Francisco Lindor that it was his job to keep the team fired up.
"One thing I said to him," Francona said, "when Edwin went down, I said, 'Hey, we can't act like we got hit in the stomach and got the wind knocked out of us.' I said, 'Keep 'em going.'"
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Even though Cleveland ace Corey Kluber lasted only 2 2/3 innings and the Indians faced an 8-3 deficit as late as the sixth inning, Lindor didn't forget his manager's message. With one swing of the bat in the sixth inning, Lindor breathed new life into the Tribe with a grand slam to make it an 8-7 game. Lindor's slam off Chad Green set off a chain of events that ultimately resulted in a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan.
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"It's an honor, it's a privilege, it's a blessing," Lindor said of Francona's trust in him. "First, he has allowed me to be Francisco Lindor since Day 1. I'm usually the little kid that runs around all excited [that's] just in the big leagues playing the game of baseball. That's probably why he said that."
After the ball hit high off the foul pole in right field, Lindor was his usual self as he rounded the bases. The All-Star shortstop flashed his signature smile while pumping his fists and screaming, "Let's go!" before meeting three of his teammates at home plate.
"He doesn't even know it yet," Jay Bruce said of Lindor. "I told him before this whole thing started, he's the guy that gets it going for us. He's the guy who sets the tone for us, and he's done that all year. I know he's going to continue to do it."
Lindor became the third Major League shortstop to hit a postseason grand slam, joining the Giants' Brandon Crawford from the 2014 National League Wild Card Game and the Cubs' Addison Russell in Game 6 of last year's World Series. In addition, Lindor's slam was the fifth in the Indians' postseason history, and the first since Jim Thome against the Red Sox in Game 2 of the 1999 ALDS.
Two innings after Lindor's slam, it was Bruce's turn. The right fielder hit a game-tying opposite-field home run to the bleachers in left off Yankees reliever Player Page for David Robertson.
Bruce said he knew the ball was gone the second it left the bat.
"I did," Bruce said. "I don't often know, especially the other way. ... Emotion overtook me when I rounded second base and saw the guys in the dugout. Because you understood at that moment what it took to get back in the game."
Lindor's grand slam and Bruce's solo shot gave the Indians a chance to win, and they did just that. Yan Gomes' walk-off single in the 13th inning brought more fireworks, as it sent the sellout Cleveland crowd home happy and gave the Tribe a 2-0 series lead heading into New York for Game 3.
"[That game ranks] No. 1," Bruce said. "Absolutely no doubt. That was an amazing game. There are no words. To be down to a team like that and to put the at-bats together and push the runs across ... wow. I'm speechless. It says a lot about our team."
Lindor's two-out slam came on a 1-0 slider from Green, and it had an exit velocity of 104.4 mph and a projected distance of 408 feet, according to Statcast™. The only question was whether it would stay fair.
"I probably had the best view of Frankie's," Francona said. "And, yeah, it actually did. It hit the inside of the pole. I was actually surprised it hit the pole. I thought he had a little bit of room to spare."
Bruce's big fly came off the bat at 106.6 mph and traveled a projected 410 feet.
"The way everyone battled and everyone got together, that was pretty special to watch," Lindor said of the victory. "And [it was] one of the most amazing experiences of my life."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.