Michael Brantley: Cleveland Indians can beat teams, one through nine

CLEVELAND -- Long before All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley delivered the game-winning hit in a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox in the home opener at Progressive Field with a 10th-inning RBI double, he watched as his teammates struggled to come through in clutch situations.

The Indians (4-3) went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position, including an 0-for-3 showing from catcher Yan Gomes and 0-for-2 efforts from outfielder Tyler Naquin and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, but despite that, there was no panic in the third-base dugout.

“Not when you’re a good team like we are,” Brantley said. “We can beat you, one through nine. We have a great group of guys in that locker room. We just did that with two outs.

“It could’ve happened at any time, so there’s no sense of urgency. There’s no rush. You’ve got to play the game, take what the game gives you and try not to do too much and just kind of pass the line. The guy behind you is just as good as the guy in front of you, so it’s a special lineup.”

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).

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.

The Indians had many chances to go back in front after the White Sox evened the score with a Todd Frazier home run in the top of the fifth inning, but they could not deliver a run-scoring hit in regulation.

Outfielder Abraham Almonte doubled to deep left-center field to start the bottom of the sixth inning, and after designated hitter Carlos Santana lined out, Lindor was given an intentional walk and Brantley followed with a free pass of his own.

However, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, second baseman Jose Ramirez doubled to deep left-center field, but two straight strikeouts and a groundout ended the Indians’ chances in the frame.

Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Almonte and Santana drew back-to-back walks, and both players moved up 90 feet when Lindor dropped down a sacrifice bunt to third base. Brantley was walked intentionally to get to Encarnacion, who grounded into another 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.

“He’ll be okay,” Francona said of Encarnacion. “It was a tough day, and he’s had them before. I always feel as frustrated as you get or as cold as you get, good hitters get that hot, and there will be days, hopefully soon, where I’m sitting here saying, ‘He carried us,’ or ‘He did this’ because he’s too good. Right now, he’s a little stuck in-between, but he’ll be fine.”

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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