Tribe Starts Homestand With Santana Walk-off Shot; Indians 3, White Sox 2

Carlos Santana drilled a 0-2 walk-off shot into the seats in front of the center field bullpens in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday night as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox, 3-2, after blowing a lead in the top of the frame.

It was the Indians’ first walk-off home run since the 2014 season. The victory for the Tribe (36-30) ended their three-game losing streak and guaranteed another day in first place in the American League Central Division. It gave Cleveland its six straight win at home and its fourth straight over the White Sox (33-34).

With reliever Nate Jones on the mound for his second batter of the night and his first in the bottom of the ninth, Santana took two strikes looking before unloading on a slider, giving him his 14th homer of the season and the Indians a game-winner.

Santana - AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Santana – AP Photo/Tony Dejak

“He threw a slider,” said Santana, “and I tried to get good contact.”

It capped off an incredibly pitched game on both sides of the contest from each starting pitcher and erased the damage caused in the top of the ninth on the blown save from closer Cody Allen, his second of the season.

“When you’re playing at home, even though it’s a kick in the stomach for a minute, you’re still hitting last,” said Indians manager Terry Francona of his team’s walk-off win. “You see what happens. You make a mistake on the road and you can lose. Fortunately, they did, because they had Santana down 0-2 and, man, he took a nice swing. That kid’s got a really good arm.”

The Indians had jumped out in front three batters into the first inning against Chicago starter Jose Quintana, who was once again victimized by minimal run support on the mound from his Sox teammates. Rajai Davis led off the bottom of the first with a single to right and stole second base before Jason Kipnis struck out swinging. Francisco Lindor jumped on a 2-0 pitch and singled to center, driving in Davis to take the early 1-0 lead.

The White Sox tied it up in the third against Indians starter Trevor Bauer. With one out, Adam Eaton hit a sinking liner to right field. Lonnie Chisenhall got caught in between and slipped, letting the ball bounce over his head and go all the way to the wall. The play was ruled a triple and one batter later, he scored easily on a grounder to short by Jose Abreu to tie the game at one.

After a second inning single from Jose Ramirez, Quintana retired eleven straight batters until a leadoff single in the sixth by Michael Martinez. The Indians put two on that inning, but could not score, and left another runner on first in the seventh before they struck through in the eighth, again off of Quintana.

Martinez singled the opposite way to start the inning. After a strikeout by Davis, Kipnis hit what appeared to be a potential game-winner, doubling deep to the gap in right-center field to score Martinez with the go-ahead run. A pair of groundouts left what would turn out to be a huge insurance run standing on second base.

Garcia - AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Garcia – AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Allen came out for the ninth, replacing Bryan Shaw, who skirted around trouble in the eighth before the Indians took the lead. Allen got Alex Avila to ground out, but Brett Lawrie pounded a double to deep left-center, cut off by Davis, but not in enough time to keep Lawrie at just one base on the hit. Avisail Garcia jumped on the next pitch, lifting the ball high and deep to center, bouncing off of the wall for a big RBI-double to tie the game at two. Allen settled in after blowing the save, striking out both J.B. Shuck and rookie Tim Anderson swinging to end the inning.


Entering his game-winning at bat, Santana was 0-for-3 on the night with a pair of strikeouts against the left-hander Quintana while hitting from the right side of the plate. In his first at bat flipped to the left side of the plate, he cleared the wall with his walk-off blast.


Cleveland’s number nine hitter, Martinez, was on base twice with a pair of singles, the only Indians hitter in the ball game with two hits. The White Sox only had one of their own, Garcia, whose late efforts nearly ruined the night for the Indians.

Martinez is now hitting .333 for the Tribe since his call up.

Bauer - AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Bauer – AP Photo/Tony Dejak


Once again, Bauer looked strong on the mound for the Tribe, pitching seven innings and again saving the bullpen from wear and tear. But once again, he comes away with a no-decision because of the bullpen faltering late. He allowed just one run on four hits with three walks and nine strikeouts on the night. He threw a season-high 115 pitches and threw first pitch strikes to 17 of the 27 batters he faced on the evening.

“I thought Trevor was good,” said Francona. “You know, they were really more patient with him tonight than they have been in the past. I don’t know if that was by design, but there was a lot of deep counts. Pitch count was up high. I don’t worry about him so much because his arm is in really good shape, but you start to get concerned when hitters are coming around and they’ve seen everything he has. But I really didn’t see a reason to take him out. He was really effective, his stuff wasn’t dropping off. Really good changeup. Pitches were moving.”


If he wasn’t pitching for the enemy, you’d almost feel bad for Quintana. For the seventh consecutive outing, he was supported by one run or less while he was on the mound and has received just five total runs of support in that span. He has not won in over a month, dating back to May 8.

He went seven and two-thirds innings in the contest, giving up two runs on seven hits with one late walk and six strikeouts. He threw first pitch strikes to 19 of the last 26 batters he faced. He retired each of the first eleven hitters he faced on the evening who saw first pitch strikes until the two-out mark in the sixth, when he walked Lindor on four straight balls after getting ahead quickly in the count.


The stolen base in the first inning by Davis was the first stolen base given up this season by Quintana. Opposing base runners had attempted to steal against him just one time so far in 2016.

“It’s been impressive because Raj’s stolen bases seem like a lot of them have come when they’re trying to defend it and he still has the ability to go,” said Francona. “It was something we had hoped for when we signed him, but it may be better than we expected just because of the timing of them.”


Mike Napoli was 0-for-4 on the night, but he had his first June game without a strikeout, ending a streak of 14 straight games registering at least one strikeout at the plate.


Game two of the three-game series between the Indians and White Sox this weekend will pick up later in the day Saturday, when new Sox starter James Shields (0-1, 16.71 ERA) will take the mound against the Tribe’s Danny Salazar (7-3, 2.19).

Game time from downtown Cleveland is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET.

Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak

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