Are you a believer yet?
Catcher Carlos Santana, who entered Friday night’s game batting just .192 on the year, came up to the plate with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth after going hitless in three at-bats and launched a towering home run into the seats in right field for a walk-off grand slam to give the Cleveland Indians a 9-5 win over the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field.
With Friday night’s 17th victory of the season, Cleveland set a franchise record for most wins in the month of April as the first-place Indians remain 4-1/2 games ahead of second-place Kansas City in the AL Central with a 17-8 record.
One thing is for sure, there’s no quit in this year’s edition Cleveland Indians.
Trailing 3-0 after five innings and 5-2 heading into the home half of the seventh, the Tribe rallied by scoring runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth.
Down 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth after getting just two hits through the first five innings against Tigers’ starting pitcher, Max Scherzer, the Indians added a pair of runs as Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-out single to center and after two walks, Shelley Duncan came through with base hit that scored AC and Shin-Soo Choo to make it a 3-2 game.
In the seventh, Detroit extended their lead as Jhonny Peralta smacked an RBI single and Alex Avila hit a sacrifice fly to widen the Tigers advantage to 5-2.
Not to be outdone, Cleveland struck quickly to tie the game at 5-all after the seventh inning stretch as Matt LaPorta drilled his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot into the seats in left field with one out. After Jack Hannahan popped out and Grady Sizemore drew a four-pitch, two-out walk from Scherzer, Asdrubal Cabrera rocketed a deep drive to right for his fifth HR of the season.
With the game still tied at 5-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Hannahan led off the final frame with a single to center and Sizemore followed with a base hit to right to put runners on the corners with no outs. After Asdrubal Cabrera was intentionally walked to load the bases, Tigers’ reliever Joaquin Benoit struck out Choo on three pitches before serving up a meaty 3-1 pitch to Santana who belted the game-winner.
Indians’ starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez went 5.2 innings and gave up three runs on 10 scattered hits with four strikeouts and no walks. The only real damage to Gomez came when Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer off of him in the first. He faced 28 batters and threw 15 first-pitch strikes in 96 total pitches with 58 landing in the zone.
Tribe reliever Chad Durbin gave up the other two runs on two hits with a walk in the 1/3 official inning he threw plus the two batters he faced in the seventh without recording an out. After that, relief pitchers Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez combined to shutout the Tigers in the final three frames.
In game two of this three-game set scheduled for 6:05 p.m. at Progressive Field, 2009 first-round pick Alex White will make his Major League debut on Saturday night against Detroit, who will send Rick Porcello (1-2, 4.76) to the mound.
So far this season at the Triple-A level, White is 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA in four starts for the Clippers. In 23.2 innings of work, White allowed just five earned runs on 19 hits with 28 strikeouts and five walks while opponents have hit just .211 against him.