Brantley's walk-off homer sends Indians over Rangers, 4-3
Tribe powers their way to comeback win to sweep three-game weekend series
CLEVELAND—It started rough, eased up late and ended so smooth.
Operating in extra innings against the Rangers knotted in a 3-3 tie, Cleveland’s favorite doctor came up and saved the life of the game.
On a 3-2 pitch from Texas rookie Phil Klein (0-1, 18.00 ERA) in the bottom of the 12th, Michael Brantley lined a walk-off solo homer into the visitors bullpen to give the Indians a 4-3 victory Sunday.
“I don’t know what I got a hold of truthfully,” Brantley said. It was something down and in. I was able to get down on it and put a good swing on it and it went over the fence.”
The long ball gives the center fielder his 16th homer of the season as the Wahoos sweep the three-game weekend series with the Rangers.
“It’s something to be said we just kept playing,” manager Terry Francona said. “There wasn’t real a lot to yell about during the game, but our pitching kept it close enough.”
Pitching at least on the Indians side didn’t look too good at the outset. Texas hitters jumped all over Trevor Bauer early scoring three runs in the first two innings.
It was in the second inning that Bauer walked the bases loaded to start the frame.
“I had a guy 0-2 and walked him, which is unusual for me,” he said. “I don’t know, just sometimes I lose command of the ball for a period of time.”
The 23-year-old wouldn’t lose it for long though, logging 7 1/3 solid innings of work allowing just the three runs in the ballgame. For Bauer, it marked the eighth time in nine home starts the right-hander tossed at least six innings.
“He reeled it in,” Francona said. “He threw 40 pitches in the first two innings and then through 40 in the next four. If they score after that, it’s more of an uphill battle especially with [Yu] Darvish pitching.”
The Rangers three-time All-Star and Japanese phenom held Cleveland to just one run on four hits through seven strong innings of work, walking two and striking out eight. His only blip came in the Tribe third inning, as David Murphy raked a two-out RBI double off Darvish that hit off the wall in right field.
But that would be the least impact Murphy would play Sunday.
Trailing Texas 3-1 with one out in the ninth, the left-handed outfielder clawed his team back into the game with one swing of the bat. A Chris Dickerson’s one out double off Rangers closer Neftali Feliz put Murphy at the plate as the tying run and he delivered.
On a first pitch changeup, Murphy tied the game up with a clutch two-run blast to the right field seats.
"That was a nice at-bat,” Francona said of Dickerson. “If he doesn’t get on, Murph’s got a nice home run but we’re still down one.”
That was fun,” Murphy said. “The best part about it is today’s my daughter’s seventh birthday. After I hit a double off the wall in my first at-bat, I was kind of mad at myself because I wanted to hit her a home run on her birthday. It makes it extra special.”
The Tribe right fielder not only came up big on offense, but on the defensive side of the ball as well with two great web gems.
“Just one of those days where it’s fun to come to the ballpark,” Murphy said. I hit a double, hit a home run and make a few good catches. Everything worked out today.”
Spending six years with the Rangers before signing with the Indians this past offseason, Murphy has been a force at the plate against his former club all season. Going 2-for-3 Sunday, the right fielder hit .600 (6-for-10) in the series with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. His nine game-tying RBI this season tied for the most in the American League.
“Awesome performance all the way around this whole series,” Brantley said of Murphy. “He works so hard is such a great teammate to everybody. It’s a nice series for him especially against his old club and we’re proud of him. Without that swing, without those guys working as good, that’s not possible. It was a team effort tonight and a great win for this team.”
Playing in extras, it was a total team effort by Indians relievers as well. John Axford, Marc Rzepczynski, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison (5-0, 2.76 ERA) combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out six.
Over the last six games, the Tribe ‘pen has logged 24 innings surrendering just three runs.
“We had good chances after that, but didn’t cash in,” Francona said. “Brantley comes up and delivers like you know you’re going to get a quality at-bat. Can’t guarantee a hit, but you know you’re going to get a huge at-bat from him.”
It was Brantley’s second walk-off homer of the season, the last coming back on May 19 against Detroit. For the Indians, the win marked their seventh walk-off victory at home where five of them have come via the long ball.
Cleveland (56-55) moves one game over the .500 mark for the first time in the last 12 days, improving to 3-0 in the month of August. The Tribe also pickup a game in the A.L. Wild Card race, sitting three games behind Toronto for the second playoff spot.
Up next for Indians: The Battle of Ohio as instate rival Cincinnati Reds (56-55) invades Cleveland for a brief two game series at Progressive Field. Tribe ace Corey Kluber (11-6, 2.61 ERA) gets the start against Reds All-Star right-hander Alfredo Simon (12-6, 2.84 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
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Aviles is another player that should be dealt. JRam is essentially the same player already. Does not make much sense to have both of them on the roster. His defense at SS has been a pleasant surprise and he will only get better at the plate. Z.Walters should get called up for one of them. He has crushed AAA, time to give him a chance.
Trading Murphy and Aviles in an Agust deal frees up 9mil for next season, money that can be invested in a SP and probably nets the Indians some raw low minors prospects.
A DL rest for Swisher is ok by me. He needs to find himself.
Imagine - not playing $30 mil of payroll and making a run.
So far addition by subtraction is working.
Now for Swisher.
-Starting with Dr Smooth... He's on pace for a very nice mid 20's home run / 100 RBI's / .320 BA for the season.. Very much in the Carlos Beltran comp area...The walk off homer was a thing of beauty..
- David Murphy and his magic hands have come alive over the last three series.. He's hitting a very sweet .450+ while raising his home splits to a very respectable .280 / . 332 / .442.. He's an excellent platoon guy.. that Tito can exploit going forward.. Great signing by Chris Antonetti to see his true value and where he could be used..
-The Bullpen..only one guy had a bad day (ShawShank) but other than that.. not one.. Extra inning game? No problem.. 5 innings.. six k's no runs no hits no nothing.. everyone seems to have their role and work it.
Cleveland rejoins the Battle for Ohio with the two best starters for the Reds (Simon and Cueto) going against Kluber and Tomlin Monday and Tuesday at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie.. they repeat the process in the Queen City for two more.. The Toronto Blue Jays currently hold the WC but are becoming precariously close to failing.. The Jays get the AL East leading Orioles to start a home stand. KC travels to Arizona while the Yankees host the Tigers for a four game series.. Wouldn't a sweep by the Tigers or the NYY's be nice there!!? a split wouldn't hurt either.. It's too bad both teams can't be swept simultaneously.. The last team in front of the Tribe in this five team, three game separation are the Mariners who host the Atlanta Braves..
Some interesting games to start the first full week in August.. Should get mighty interesting indeed..