CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion walked to home plate with a simple philosophy in the 11th inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels in front of the home fans at Progressive Field.
With the bases loaded and the Angels bringing in an extra infielder, Encarnacion was looking for a pitch to elevate, and elevate he did. Encarnacion belted the first pitch he saw from reliever Bud Norris over the wall and into the bleachers in left-center field for a game-winning grand slam in the 11-7 win for the Indians (53-45).
“I just tried to look for a pitch that I could hit a fly ball with,” Encarnacion said through translator Anna Bolton. “I tried to get out in front of it, and thank God, I was able to get a fly, get out in front of it, and everything turned out well.
“It was a little bit weird. I don’t think I’ve ever been against that in my whole career, so that’s why I tried to get out in front of the ball and was looking for a fly.”
It was Encarnacion’s 10th career grand slam, and his sixth walk-off homer. Encarnacion’s fifth career extra-inning home run kept the Indians in front of the Kansas City Royals by 1.5 games in the American League Central Division standings and gave Cleveland its fifth straight victory.
Following the grand slam, Encarnacion was mobbed by his teammates in and around the home plate area.
“It’s great,” Encarnacion said. “It’s a wonderful feeling. Yes, this is my first walk-off with the Indians, and it’s an amazing feeling. It felt amazing to connect with the ball and to hit it out like I did.”
Indians manager Terry Francona added, “I know it felt good to me. Anytime you get mobbed by your teammates, that’s a good feeling. I wouldn’t know, but I’ve got to believe it.”
Encarnacion’s grand slam was the Indians’ second of the game, as center fielder Bradley Zimmer belted one in the bottom of the second inning.
Although the Indians had a seven-run second inning, starter Mike Clevinger surrendered six runs over 4.1 innings of work, which helped Los Angeles draw even, and ultimately, force the game into extra innings.
However, the Indians utilized their patience to win the game.
Zimmer led off the Indians’ 11th-inning rally when he fought back from being in a 1-2 hole and drew a walk. Then, Zimmer hustled down the line and stole second base with Lindor at the plate.
After moving over to third base on a wild pitch and an intentional walk to outfielder Michael Brantley, Zimmer scored the game-winning run when Encarnacion belted the first offering from Angels reliever Bud Norris into the left-field bleachers.
It was the first time since September 24, 1999 in Toronto and just the third time in franchise history that the Indians had two grand slams in the same game. The first time was at Minnesota on April 22, 1988.
“This is the game of baseball,” Encarnacion said. “We had a comfortable lead at the beginning, and then, they came back from behind. This talks about the team and who we are, that we were able to come back and win like we did.”