CLEVELAND -- Left fielder Michael Brantley has dealt with plenty of injury issues over the last two seasons, but finally healthy, he is 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, 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).
Lindor drew a two-out walk to set up the game-winning hit from Brantley.
Lindor continued his tear at the plate for the Indians in their first at-bat of the home opener.
With one out, Lindor drove a 2-1 pitch from White Sox starter James Shields over the wall in right field, which gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of the home opener at Progressive Field.
Lindor turned on a belt-high fastball right over the heart of the plate, dropped the barrel of the bat on the ball and smashed it 397 feet into the seats.
Including the first-inning blast, Lindor leads the Indians with four home runs through the first seven games of the 2017 season.
After three one-two-three frames over the first four innings, the White Sox broke through against the Indians in the top of the fifth.
After doubling in his first at-bat, White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier smashed a 3-1 pitch from Indians starter Carlos Carrasco over the wall and onto the porch in left field. Frazier’s line-drive home run, which travelled 390 feet, evened the score at 1-1.
The White Sox looked as though they might add on more runs when right fielder Avisail Garcia smacked a one-out single to center field. However, catcher Geovany Soto struck out swinging, and with Jacob May at the plate, Garcia was caught stealing when Yan Gomes fired a throw down to Lindor, who slapped down the tag ahead of the slide.
The Indians had many chances to go back in front after the White Sox evened the score, 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.
Third baseman Yandy Diaz smacked a one-out single to right field, and center fielder Tyler Naquin followed with a fielder’s choice. However, the relay throw on an attempted double play caromed into the stands, which allowed Naquin to move into scoring position, but Gomes struck out swinging to end the frame.
While the bats struggled, Carrasco kept the Indians in the game by allowing just four hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts over seven innings of work. Carrasco set down the White Sox in order in three of the first four innings.
Out of the bullpen, left-hander Andrew Miller gave up back-to-back hits, but a diving stop from Diaz at third base and a strikeout of Tim Anderson ended Chicago’s rally in the top of the eighth inning.
Then, in the ninth, Indians closer Cody Allen struck out the heart of Chicago’s lineup, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Frazier, in order to preserve the tie.
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