The Indians pounded out 10 hits and scored five runs off Masahiro Tanaka in a 5-3 win over the New York Yankees Tuesday.
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians first baseman/designated hitter Nick Swisher has hit only seven home runs thus far this season, but five of those blast have put the Tribe in front of the opposition.
And one of those home runs, a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth inning against New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka, propelled the Indians to a 5-3 come-from-behind victory in front of 23,384 fans at Progressive Field Tuesday.
"I don't have a lot of them right now, but I'm making them count," Swisher told Sportstime Ohio after the win. "Either way, things start to seem like they're kind of warming up a little bit. The guys have got my back. It's been nice, but to be able to get a home run like that late in the game, obviously, that's huge. Either way, I'm so proud of the way the guys played.
"We're out here to battle. Regardless of who's on the mound, we're going to come out here and we're going to fight. For us, it was a good game. It didn't start off the way we wanted to, but like I said yesterday, we're going to fight. We're going to scrap. We're going to claw, and we're going to get ourselves back into the game."
Despite two RBI doubles from center fielder Michael Brantley, the Indians could not find that breakthrough hit, until Swisher came up to bat in the sixth.
With third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall already on first base after a lead-off single to right field, Swisher fought back from an 0-2 hole and took an 86-mile-per-hour slider over the wall in right-center field to give the Indians a 4-3 lead at the time.
"It was huge," said Brantley, who added a solo home run in the seventh inning. "At that point in the game,we were behind. To go back on top right there in the later innings, it's a momentum booster. The team gets excited, and we just had to hold up the lead. We did a great job tonight, and the bullpen came in and closed the door."
Indians manager Terry Francona added, "That will be so welcome because we need him for us to get where we want to go, and if he starts doing things like the last couple games, in an important part of the game, to hit a two-run homer completely turns the game around."
The Indians pounded out 10 hits and plated five runs in their 6.2 innings of work against Tanaka, the most of either against the Yankees' All-Star pitcher during his rookie season in Major League Baseball.
"He does such a great job of keeping the ball down that we knew we had to get him up in the zone and get mistake pitches to hit," Brantley said. "If not, it was going to be a long night. I think we did a great job as a team of getting him up and having quality ABs all night."
Prior to the win, Francona stated that his team was looking forward to the challenge of facing Tanaka, who has been able to help keep a Yankees team near the .500 mark despite three-fifths of their starting rotation, CC Sabathia (right knee), Ivan Nova (right elbow) and Michael Pineda (right shoulder), being on the 60-day disabled list.
"It's one of those things where you're careful what you wish for," Francona said. "It's a fun guy to face because he's really good, but you go in knowing that he's really good, and you're going to have to lay off the split out of the zone and hit the fastball that's in the zone. That's easier said than done.
"That's what a good split does. It's a fastball until it gets about five, six feet away from you. Then, it does, 'this and that.' That's really difficult. You have to be really selective. You have to look for something up because if you start looking for something down, you're going leave the zone and either miss it or hit it into the ground. That's part of the reason why he's so successful though. There's a lot of deception to that pitch.
"Anytime you're new, you're going to learn about your surroundings. Shoot, as good as he is, there may be people learning from him, but he doesn't seem to have let a different culture or a different league affect him very much, that's for sure."