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George Springer homered twice, and the Houston Astros completed their first postseason sweep, securing the American League Division Series with an 11-3 victory over the host Cleveland Indians on Monday at Progressive Field.
Marwin Gonzalez notched two bases-loaded hits, and Carlos Correa snapped a hitless drought with a homer as the Astros advanced to their second consecutive American League Championship Series and sixth LCS overall.
Springer set the franchise record with his ninth postseason homer, a game-tying solo shot in the fifth inning, before igniting a sixth-run eighth with an opposite-field blast to right field. He went 3-for-6, joining Gonzalez, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman in recording multi-hit games for the Astros.
Houston will face the winner of the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees series in Game 1 on Saturday.
“I just think it’s one of those times where the lights get brighter, the stage gets a little bit bigger, and I think guys tend to concentrate more,” Springer told the media after the game of his 10 career postseason home runs. “You hone in on stuff, and, again, I don’t know. I’m not going to complain about it. I’m happy that it happened.”
Gonzalez, whose sixth-inning, two-run double off Indians left-hander Andrew Miller gave the Astros the lead for good in Game 2, snapped a 2-all tie Monday with his double to left in the seventh inning off Trevor Bauer (0-1). Bauer, making his third appearance in as many games, gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk over 1 1/3 innings for the Indians, who were eliminated at home in the ALDS for a second consecutive season.
“I mean, I’m glad we’ve had a chance,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of losing in the ALDS again. “If you keep giving yourself a chance, there’s — at some point, you believe you’ll break through. We haven’t been good enough to this point. Nobody’s going to quit, quit trying or quit trying to get better.
“But, I mean, it is frustrating for sure. I think there’s a lot of teams that would like to be in this situation, but when you come up short, you take stock and try to do better.”
Bauer committed a pair of throwing errors in the seventh, greasing the skids to his own demise.
His errant pickoff throw allowed Tony Kemp, who reached base three times batting ninth, to advance into scoring position representing the tying run. Bauer followed with a throw that pulled Jose Ramirez off second base after fielding a comebacker off the bat of Bregman. Two batters later, Gonzalez (2-for-6, three RBIs) delivered the series-clinching blow for the Astros.
Correa was hitless in his first nine at-bats in the series before clubbing a three-run, opposite-field homer off Indians closer Brad Hand to cap the scoring in the eighth. The Cleveland bullpen surrendered 10 runs.
It was the first major league postseason game in which a team had three errors committed by pitchers.
Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger recorded nine strikeouts over five stressful innings, giving up three hits and three walks plus the first Springer dinger. But Clevinger needed 28 pitches to escape the third unscathed, and that laborious frame resulted in his relatively abbreviated outing.
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs on four hits and one walk over five innings. He fanned two. Right-hander Collin McHugh (1-0) earned the victory with two perfect innings of relief.
Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor homered for the second time in the series and went 2-for-3. The leadoff man’s 446-foot home run gave the Indians a 2-1 lead in the fifth.
“He’s very similar to George at the top of our order,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Lindor. “There’s no way to get around him. ... The first pitch of the game brings anxiety. So he was important. We didn’t really control him. He hit the ball out of the ballpark from both sides of the plate. We were able to minimize the people in front of him, the guys at the bottom of the order where it rolled around where he only ended up with an at-bat or two with guys on base.”
Indeed, the Indians amassed 13 hits in the series, matching the total the Astros produced in Game 3 alone.
—Field Level Media