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ALDS: Trevor Bauer proves Terry Francona right by attacking Yankees in Game 1

Sporting News logo Sporting News 10/6/2017 Bill Bender
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Video by Fox Sports

CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer raised both arms into the air and expressed appreciation for Jason Kipnis' diving catch in center field with one big scream — "Woo!" — and a two-word exclamation the cameras cut off the second time around.

They were two words at least a cross-section of Cleveland fans likely repeated a few times after watching Bauer lead the Indians to a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of the ALDS at Progressive Field on Thursday.

Bauer had a few more words about that catch afterward.

"I think that's the biggest play in the game," Bauer said. "At that point, it's a very close game. … One baserunner in the postseason is a momentum swing."

GAME CENTER: Yankees-Indians box score, stats

One performance is a momentum swing, too. Bauer, flashing an unhittable curveball, proved manager Terry Francona's well-documented gamble right. He didn't allow a hit through the first 5 1/3 innings, and overall he spun 6 2/3 innings of two-hit ball with eight strikeouts.

Now the Indians can start AL Cy Young contender Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks) on Friday in Game 2 (5 p.m. ET, FS1) with no blowback. The Yankees, meanwhile, have little margin for error as the Indians look to tighten their grip on the best-of-five series.

Francona used Bauer in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston last season, but in a much different fashion. Francona was the aggressor in that game, lifting Bauer early in favor of Andrew Miller. Things were much different this time around.

"When the moment arose, he attacked it," Francona said. "He embraced everything that was thrown at him tonight. His poise was tremendous. I mean, all the way around, he attacked the strike zone."

MORE: Postseason bracket, schedule

Yankees manager Joe Girardi pointed back to that curveball.

"It's as good as we've seen it," Girardi said. "He's been pitching better. You look at his second half, and he's had better command."

The Indians, who compiled a 102-60 record in the regular season, are again setting the tone in the AL playoffs. Remember, Cleveland blew through the 2016 AL playoffs with a 7-1 record before losing in seven games to the Cubs in the World Series.

Bauer led the offensive Thursday against a Yankees lineup that led the majors with 241 homers in the regular season. He had four strikeouts the first time through the order. The Yankees' top four hitters went 0 for 12 against him. The only mistakes Bauer made against them were a second-inning walk to Greg Bird and a passed ball – on a strikeout, no less – of Aaron Judge.

Kipnis covered up Bauer's only other mistake with that diving catch on a Chase Headley shot to left-center in the third inning.

PHILLIPS: Yankees, Indians clash in battle of top bullpens

From there, Bauer dealt while the Indians built a 4-0 lead through five. No Indians pitcher had ever taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the postseason. Bob Feller made it to the fifth in the 1948 World Series. Early Wynn did the same in the 1954 World Series. That's how good Bauer was.

"The mindset was to go out there like a closer in the first inning and put up a scoreless inning at all costs," Bauer said. "Then, if I was still in the game, do it in the second inning and third inning on until I was taken out of the game."

Aaron Hicks ended the no-hit bid with a one-out double in the sixth, and Bauer received a round of applause from the Progressive Field crowd. Two batters later, Bauer struck out Judge for the third time.

Bauer walked off the mound fired up after that one, too.

Bauer exited after allowing a two-out single to Starlin Castro in the seventh and gave way to Miller. Again, it was different this time. Cleveland wasn't hoping for a good outing from its starter, it expected one, and Bauer delivered.

MORE: Three takeaways from Indians' Game 1 victory

"I got a little taste of that last year," Bauer said. "Obviously, there was different circumstances last year that we were dealing with. I guess, to that point, it wasn't a huge shock."

That's the biggest statement after Game 1. Got words for that? Francona had four for Bauer when he took the ball in the seventh inning.

"I just said, ‘Way to go, kid,'" Francona said. "I mean, that was some pretty good pitching."

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