The Cleveland Indians trailed for much of the latter stages of Wednesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park, and it was because of an error that shortstop Francisco Lindor committed on a play that could have ended the fifth inning without a run.
But redemption was fast at hand, as Lindor launched two home runs in his final at-bats, including the game-winning grand slam in the top of the ninth inning of the 9-6 come-from-behind victory, which completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers (0-3) for the Indians (3-0).
“I thank the Lord. I thank my teammates,” Lindor said following the game. “They kept me up, cheering me up the whole, entire time, telling me, ‘It is going to happen, and we are going to win this game.’ I was just trying to hit a sac fly or something and not roll over.”
Francisco Lindor delivers Cleveland Indians to victory
Lindor turned on a 1-1 pitch over the plate and smashed the offering from Rangers closer Sam Dyson inside the foul pole for his first career Major League grand slam.
Indians third baseman Yandy Diaz got the ninth-inning rally going when he smacked a leadoff single to center field, which outfielder Tyler Naquin followed up with a single of his own to left. After a lineout from catcher Yan Gomes, outfielder Abraham Almonte drew a walk to load the bases.
Designated hitter Carlos Santana followed with an RBI walk with the bases loaded, which set the table for Lindor’s blast.
“I wanted the game to be tied and let Brantley win the game,” Lindor said. “I wasn’t trying to win the game. I just wanted Salazar not to get the loss, and it was hurting me the whole, entire time with how good of an outing he had that he was going to get the loss.”
While the Indians took a lead in the top of the fifth inning, the Rangers had quite the response in the bottom of the frame.
Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy singled to right field to start the inning and moved over to second base when right fielder Joey Gallo drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch from Indians starter Danny Salazar.
After getting shortstop Elvis Andrus and designated hitter Delino DeShields to strike and foul out, respectively, Salazar had Shin-Soo Choo in an 0-2 hole after he swung and missed at two offerings, but then, a throwing error from Lindor on a fielder’s choice allowed Lucroy and Gallo to score.
Initially, Lindor fielded the ground ball from Choo and hustled toward second base for the final out of the inning. However, Gallo hustled his way from first and beat Lindor to the bag. Lindor tried to fire a throw to first base, but Edwin Encarnacion was off the bag and did not get his foot on the base in time for the final out of the frame.
Then, outfielder Nomar Mazara brought around the third run when he singled home Choo on a hit to center field.
“A mental error. That can’t happen,” Lindor said. “It doesn’t matter how many games I’ve got in the big leagues, how many games we have this year, that cannot happen. That probably affected Salazar. He could’ve probably thrown another one or two more innings the way he was pitching, and that can’t happen. Mental errors like that can’t happen.”