With one swing of the bat in the bottom of the 10th inning, Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley turned around the emotions of a four-game losing streak into a jubilant home-plate celebration at Progressive Field.
Brantley took a 3-2 pitch from Detroit Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque over the wall in right field and sealed a 5-4 Indians victory.
"It felt great," Brantley told Sportstime Ohio after his first career walk-off home run. "It was a tough AB. He has a great slider, threw me some good ones in the beginning of the AB. I was lucky enough to get one out over the plate and put a great swing on it."
With that game-winning home run, Brantley is now three of five with two home runs in his career against Alburquerque.
"As long as we win, but the way it ended was great," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Brantley's been so big for us, and you saw how excited everybody was for him and for us. We played a pretty good game, but we're going to have to, to beat them.
"As they showed, they took a plane ride today, and the way they played, they're really good. You make a mistake to them, and they make you pay for it."
Brantley came up with the game-winning hit after the Indians blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning. Pinch hitter J.D. Martinez belted a solo home run to center field off Cody Allen, who was in for the save attempt.
Brantley now has a six-game hitting streak and is the Indians' leader in hits (47), home runs (nine), and runs batted in (33), is tied for first with four stolen bases, tied for second with 10 doubles, and tied for third with 17 walks.
"I know it's fun to watch," Francona said of Brantley. "I think his base is stronger, his legs. As good hitters get to know themselves, the league, sometimes, that evolves into more production. I think that's what you're seeing.
"I don't think you see him selling out to hit home runs. He's just hitting balls that maybe used to be doubles. He's starting to drive over the fence, which is great to see, but what I really like is the fact that he is the same hitter. He's just generating more home runs."
Brantley was quick to credit his teammates for the increased production this year.
"Trust in my teammates, putting good swings on good pitches and getting some luck too," Brantley said his formula for success. "This is a hard game. Every day, I don't take it for granted. I prepare the same way and just try the best I can."
Brantley was not the only Indians player to get a big hit in Monday's win over the Tigers.
Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher singled home Ryan Raburn. Then, after a coaching visit to the mound, first baseman Jesus Aguilar drove in catcher Yan Gomes with a single to shortstop Andrew Romine.
Aguilar's hit in the fifth inning was the first of his major-league career.
"He looked like he relaxed a lot, and it was good to see him have a little bit of fun out there," Francona said. "It's very easy for us to forget the kid is up here for the first time in the big leagues and hasn't gotten a hit. We're grinding away, every game, and it's very easy to forget how nervous and uptight they can get."
After the Tigers scored on Rajai Davis' RBI double to center field in the top of the seventh inning, Aguilar struck again when he drove in Gomes with a sacrifice fly to center in the Indians' half of the frame.
"It seemed like tonight, we didn't let our frustration get the best of us, which is good because we had some chances, Francona said. "At least we had chances. We kept at them, and finally, cashed in a little bit."