CLEVELAND -- In the game of baseball, it really is not over until the last swing of the bat has been taken.
The Cleveland Indians could have gotten down on themselves after giving up a two-run single to Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols in the top of the 10th inning, but instead of suffering their second loss in four days, they fought back and earned a 5-3 victory in front of 20,361 fans at Progressive Field.
After the Indians fell behind the Angels, 3-1, with Pujols' two-run single, Cleveland designated hitter Nick Swisher stepped to the plate and took a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall for a game-winning grand slam off Angels reliever Ernesto Fieri.
"That was great," Swisher said. "This was one of those swing games for us. That's a great team over there for sure, and just the way we went out and played today, the way Masty (Justin Masterson) pitched, the way the bullpen pitched, to keep this team down to three runs, that's doing something. We feel extremely comfortable at home. Obviously, our record shows that, but this was one of those scrappy, gritty wins. We needed something like this, and I'm just happy to be a part of it.
"These guys are battling. We're all fighting. We're all banged up a little bit. We've got Detroit coming in, obviously, a huge series for us, and we'll be ready."
Before Swisher could belt the game-winning slam, the Indians needed base runners, and they had the top of the batting order up to get the 10th inning rally started.
Lead-off hitter Michael Bourn drew a walk, and after shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera struck out, second baseman Jason Kipnis hit a ball to left-center field and slid right under the tag for a hustle double that put runners on second and third with one out. Then, the Indians earned another free pass, as first baseman Carlos Santana drew a walk off reliever Cam Bedrosian, and two batters later, Swisher brought the house down with his two-strike swing.
"You know something, it's a good feeling when you're sitting there thinking you're going to win, not hoping, but kind of thinking you're going to win," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We hadn't done a whole lot offensively all day. I think we were hoping with bringing in Bedrosian that maybe he'd walk Bourney.
"Bourney was very patient, had a really good at-bat. Then, Kip with a really good at-bat and better base-running got us in position where if we can get a hit, we get to keep playing. Guys just kept on making them throw strikes and Swish gets a big hit and we go home."
Until that grand slam, Swisher had gone 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in his first four plate appearances.
"I have faith in everybody," Francona said. "I would be a horrible manager to not have faith. I always feel like we're going to win. There's guys when their baseball card's that long and they're not hurt, they'll hit. That's the way the game is."
The heart of the Angels' batting order had just one hit in seven at-bats against Indians pitching prior to the 10th inning, but when they needed them most, the hitters strung together three straight hits with two outs.
With right fielder Kole Calhoun and center fielder Mike Trout on second and third after the latter doubled down the left-field line, Pujols stepped to the plate and hit a two-run single off of Indians reliever Scott Atchison through the hole at second base for the go-ahead tallies.
"I thought Atch actually pitched him tremendous," Francona said. "He took a couple awkward swings, a little bit defensive. Give Pujols credit. He's pretty smart, besides being good. He beat us with it, and fortunately, we end up coming back to win the game. We would do the same thing again. It's just hard to watch that ball go through."
The Indians got on the scoreboard with one run in the bottom half of the third inning, and had plenty of other chances to add runs, but failed to do so throughout the afternoon.
After catcher Yan Gomes led off the inning with a single to center field, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall drew a walk. Left fielder Mike Aviles hit into a fielder's choice, but later stole second base to put runners on second and third with one out.
Bourn drove in Gomes with an RBI groundout, and Cabrera followed with a walk to put runners at the corners. However, Kipnis flew out to left to end the threat.
Two innings later, Gomes again reached base with a lead-off single, but three straight ground outs from Chisenhall, Aviles and Bourn spoiled any chance of a rally.
The Indians looked as though they could get a two-out rally going in the bottom of the sixth inning, but that was not meant to be.
After Santana walked and right fielder Ryan Raburn singled to center field, Swisher took a two-two pitch that home plate umpire Rob Drake called for strike three to end the inning. It was Swisher's third strikeout of the game, and second consecutive strikeout looking.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians pinch hit David Murphy for Raburn and he reached on a fielding error. Then, three batters later, Chisenhall singled to put Murphy in scoring position, but Aviles struck out swinging to end the threat.
But despite the early struggles, the Indians found a way to pull out yet another come-from-behind victory in front of the home fans.
"We take a lot of pride in that, especially in this ballpark," Swisher said. "We don't lose in this ballpark, and the other night, we got it put on us pretty good. To be able to come back here today, for Masty to do what he did to go seven strong and then, our bullpen coming in, that was crucial and just gave us an opportunity to come back.
"Bourney had a huge walk in the bottom of the 10th to lead it off, and Kippy with a huge double. The next thing you know, it started rolling from there."