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Indians down Blue Jays in MLB series opener

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – 

Francisco Lindor belted a two-run home run to power the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in game one of their American League Championship Series.

The home win in Cleveland on Friday gives the Indians the upper hand in the best-of-seven series that will send the winner to Major League Baseball’s World Series.

Starting pitcher Corey Kluber threw 6 1/3 innings for the Indians and combined with two relievers on the seven-hit shut-out.

Toronto’s Marco Estrada pitched a complete game surrendering six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

The walk put Jason Kipnis on base in the sixth. Estrada then delivered a 78 mph, 0-2 changeup to Lindor that the Indians’ All-Star shortstop belted over the wall in center field.

Kluber threw 100 pitches, 71 of them strikes. He struck out six and walked two before departing with one out in the seventh.

By then he’d had to work his way out of trouble several times. The Blue Jays put runners on base in each of the first three innings, only for Kluber to hold them to 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through four frames.

Andrew Miller took over from Kluber with one out in the seventh, and closing pitcher Cody Allen pitched the ninth to record the save.

Game two is on Saturday in Cleveland, when the Indians send Josh Tomlin to the mound and the Blue Jays give the ball to J.A. Happ.

The winner of the series will duel in the World Series against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers, who open the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

The Cubs, the best team in baseball in the regular season, are vying to end a World Series drought that stretches back to 1908.

But they’re not the only club out to end a significant dry spell.

Cleveland haven’t won the World Series since 1948, the Dodgers since 1988.

Of the four teams still standing, Toronto won it all most recently, taking back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

© 2016 AFP