playoffs 2016: Cleveland grabs control of ALDS with aggressive approach to Game 1

CLEVELAND — So this is how the after-party feels.A little more than three months after the Cavaliers broke the city’s 52-year championship drought, the Indians took the first swing at a franchise drought that runs back to 1948. Game 1 of the Tribe's ALDS against the Red Sox had that after-party feel on a perfect 75-degree October night. Any doubts about the attendance at Progressive Field were put to rest early. Renowned team mascot Slider stood over the script "Indians" logo waving a bold-red “Rally Together” towel before the game. “Let’s Go, Tribe” enveloped the stadium while AC/DC’s go-to pump-up song “Thunderstruck” blared.  Indians second basemen Jason Kipnis remembered that environment in the AL wild-card game against the Rays in 2013.

MORE: Top 50 players in the playoffs“They came with it,” Kipnis said of that night. “I think it was different for me than it was for the crowd. The crowd was fantastic both times out. I think in ’13 I might have built it up a little too much.”Cleveland wasn't passive at all Thursday. The Indians used an aggressive approach to knock off the Sox 5-4 to take a 1-0 series lead. Put it up against the environment at Quicken Loans Arena through the Cavs’ run, and it was about even.The noise got cranked up in the third inning when Roberto Perez, Kipnis and Francisco Lindor homered in a span of four batters off Red Sox ace Rick Porcello. That staked Tribe starter Trevor Bauer to a 4-2 lead. Kipnis calmly watched his homer sail into the right-center field stands, then hung over the dugout railing watching Lindor’s shot clear Mookie Betts’ glove in right field. That last one led to a free-for-all celebration.“After the first one it was getting exciting,” Kipnis said. “After mine it was kind 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.” (Getty Images) MORE: Must-see ALDS photosKipnis played like a team leader. He went 3 for 4. Others stepped up, too.  Trevor Bauer delivered in a gotta-have-it start. He entered the night with a 12.91 ERA in three career appearances against the Red Sox, and he navigated through 4 2/3 without irreparable damage. This was the start Cleveland needed — especially without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — and they got it.Reliever Andrew Miller had not appeared in the fifth inning all season and created trouble with a two-out double and walk. He made good on Terry Francona’s aggressive decision by striking out David Ortiz, then working 1 2/3 more scoreless frames. Miller had no problem coming in early.“This is a selfless team,” Miller said. “This win sums up who we are.”MORE: Three takeaways from Game 1The Indians doubled down on that aggression in the bottom half of the fifth when Perez tagged up from first base on a deep flyout to left field. Perez reached safely, and the move paid off when Kipnis followed with an RBI single.“(Perez’s) baserunning, I thought that was an outstanding tag at first,” Francona said. “I’m not sure if that was a slide or a car accident or what going into second, but that was a nice piece of heads-up baserunning for us.”Cleveland carried that aggression to the finish.In the eighth inning, Boston’s Marco Hernandez lurked on third base. Tribe closer Cody Allen faced Xander Bogaerts, and the cheers swirled. Bogaerts’ check swing ended the inning and “Hang On Sloopy” blared this time. It's the go-to pump-up song in Ohio — that stretches to every corner of the state.That scenario repeated a few times in the ninth. Perez hunted Sandy Leon down the first-base line with a tag after a check-swing third strike. Dustin Pedroia’s check-swing strikeout ended the game.MORE: Red Sox-Indians Game CenterAllen had a five-out save. The Indians won. Slider waved an ALDS pennant behind home plate. “Cleveland Rocks” closed the party, just like it did on those summer nights at The Q.The next one will feel different. Game 2 starts early (4;30 p.m. ET Friday), and every Cleveland playoff win comes with perspective. The Indians had a 3-1 lead on Boston in the 2007 ALCS, and that disappeared. Cleveland had a 2-0 lead against the Red Sox in the 1999 ALDS, and that disappeared, too. This is a place where memories like that don’t just fade away.To take command of the series, they’ll need more of that same aggression with a short bullpen and Corey Kluber on the mound.“We’ll take inventory of what we got,” Francona said. “You’re certainly not going to see the same exact way (Friday). But we wanted to win the game (Thursday), and we did. (Friday) might have to be a little bit different design.”