CLEVELAND -- Left fielder Michael Brantley has dealt with plenty of shoulder issues and recoveries from surgeries over the last two years, but he is finally healthy and delivering for the Cleveland Indians in the early part of the 2017 regular season.
With two outs and a full count in the bottom of the 10th inning of the home opener at Progressive Field Tuesday night, Brantley smacked an RBI double to the corner in left field and drove in shortstop Francisco Lindor in a 2-1 walk-off win over the Chicago White Sox (2-4).
“I don’t think you could write it up any better,” Brantley said. “I guess if you hit a home run, but we got a win. That’s all that matters. A lot of hard work this offseason. A lot of time away from my kids, away from my family, but they were my support. They kept me going and motivated and I just thank my family so much for always being there for me.”
Michael Brantley delivers game-winning hit for Cleveland Indians
Brantley’s game-winning hit gave the Indians (4-3) their fourth walk-off win in a home opener at Progressive Field (1994, 1998 and 1999), and their second last at-bat victory in just seven games this season.
“It’s great,” Brantley said. “It’s great to be back and be a part of this team. It was a great team win all the way around. We pitched well. We played defense well, and we were able to score one more than they did, so it was a good all-around team win.”
Prior to Brantley’s game-winning hit, the White Sox had an infield meeting on the mound with pitcher Tommy Kahnle, but the advice from manager Rick Renteria did not work, as he left the pitch in a spot where the one-time American League All-Star outfielder/2014 Silver Slugger drove it into the left-field corner.
As Brantley hustled into second base, Lindor motored toward home plate all the way from first.
“I knew what was going to happen, but at the same time, I was just trying to stay within myself,” Brantley said. “I knew I had an advantage, a hitting count. I wasn’t trying to do too much, and I put a good swing on the baseball.”
Following the game-winning hit, the Indians hustled onto the field to share in the moment with Brantley, but did so while taking it easier on his twice-repaired shoulder.
“Just excited,” Brantley said. “You don’t really feel your body. You’re just jumping around, I guess waiting to get wet. You know it’s coming. I’m just excited that we won our home opener in front of our home fans. It all came out. It was getting cold. They hung in there for us, and we were able to get a win in front of them, so it’s great.
“I think they knew. It was nice. Usually, they rip your jersey, tear you up. It was nice. I just got a little bit wet, and I’ll take that one. It was good.”