Brantley’s Single Wins it for Tribe in Eleven; Indians 5, Red Sox 4

Michael Brantley’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the eleventh inning drove in pinch-runner Rajai Davis with the winning run in a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

The Indians fended off the Red Sox until the top of the eighth, when Boston scored two runs off of Andrew Miller and Brad Hand to tie the game at four. The Indians had chances late, but it took a clutch hit in the eleventh from Brantley to send Tribe fans home a winner.

After a solid two innings of relief from Tyler Olson, the Indians stepped to the plate in the eleventh, one inning after stranding two free base runners after leadoff walks against Brian Johnson by Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion. In the eleventh, Yan Gomes faced former Tribe prospect Drew Pomeranz and singled to third, as Rafael Devers’ throw pulled Brock Holt away from the bag. Gomes was lifted for the pinch-runner Davis, who moved to second on a single by Greg Allen. The two speedsters took off running on a 1-0 pitch to Francisco Lindor, each successfully swiping a bag. Lindor was intentionally walked, setting up a potential force play at the plate. Brantley made it moot, sending a 1-1 pitch the opposite way deep towards the left field corner to easily score Davis with the winning run.

Brantley – David Maxwell/Getty Images

The Indians’ (86-68) win prevented the Red Sox (105-50) from setting a new franchise record for wins in a season.

Cleveland took an early lead in the contest against longtime foe Rick Porcello to back a wild and crazy start from Mike Clevinger. The Tribe right-hander got all three outs in the first on swinging strikeouts, but he walked two in the frame. He put two more on in the second with a walk and a hit by pitch, but he got the next three batters to prevent any of his mistakes from haunting him.

The Indians took the lead in the bottom half of the frame against Porcello as the team used a four-hit inning to move in front. Josh Donaldson singled to center and one out later moved to third on a single to right by Melky Cabrera. Gomes doubled to left to push across Donaldson to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. Jason Kipnis lined to first for the second out before Lindor singled to right. Cabrera scored easily from third, but Gomes was thrown out at the plate trying to steal a second run.

After missing out on easier scoring opportunities in the first two innings, the Red Sox got on the board in the third with a big swing from Devers. He drove a 3-2 changeup over the wall in right to make it a 2-1 game. Clevinger nearly pitched his way into trouble, issuing back-to-back walks of Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland, but he struck out Holt to prevent further harm.

The Indians responded with a run of their own in the home half of the third. A single by Brantley and a walk by Ramirez put two on, but Encarnacion grounded into a 5-3 double play. With a runner at second and the inning hanging in the balance, Donaldson delivered a big RBI-single to left, putting the Tribe’s lead back out to two.

The two teams continued to trade blows in the fourth as Blake Swihart started the inning with a drive to right that just cleared the wall for a solo shot, making it a 3-2 game. But as had been the case in the each of the last two innings, the Indians tallied another score. Gomes reached safely with one out on an error at short by Bogaerts. Kipnis joined him on the bases with a nine-pitch walk. Lindor fell behind in the count 0-2 before yanking a low curveball over the second baseman and into right field for an RBI-single. With two still on, Brantley lined out into a double play.

Clevinger and Porcello each left the game after five innings. Oliver Perez pitched an effective sixth, picking off Holt after his leadoff single before striking out the next two. Miller worked around trouble in the seventh after walking Andrew Benintendi to start the inning. Devers reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to second, but two more outs in the air by J.D. Martinez and Bogaerts ended the threat.

The Indians loaded the bases in the seventh but could not score. Kipnis singled off of Robby Scott and was removed for Allen. Johnson came on in relief and got the next two outs before walking Ramirez and Encarnacion. Donaldson flied out to leave the bags full.

Miller allowed a Moreland single to start the eighth before he retired the next two. Hand entered, looking for the final out, but instead, Jackie Bradley Jr. jumped on his first pitch and sent it to the wall in left for a double, putting two in scoring position. Benintendi drove a 1-2 single to center, scoring both base runners before he was thrown out in a bang-bang play at the bag at second trying to stretch his single to two bases.

It marked the last real threat from the Red Sox, as nine of the next ten batters were retired over the ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings.

Brantley & Lindor – David Maxwell/Getty Images

Johnson retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth inning, but nearly pitched himself into a loss in the tenth after walking the first two men of the inning. After pitching three-plus innings, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who won an unfavorable matchup against Donaldson with a strikeout. Yonder Alonso struck out on three straight pitches and the count on Yandy Diaz went full before he grounded to Bogaerts to waste a big chance to win the game.

Clevinger worked five innings in a no-decision, driven out of the game early after a big pitch count. He struck out six, but walked five, while allowing a pair of runs on three hits. With his fourth strikeout of the game, he reached the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career while giving the Indians the first pitching staff in Major League history with four different 200+ strikeout pitchers in one season.

Porcello once again was unable to pitch deep into the night, leaving with a five and fly. He allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits with two walks and a strikeout.

Brantley recorded his sixth career walk-off hit and used a three-hit game to boost his batting average to .310 on the year. Lindor went 2-for-5 and reached a third time via walk. He drove in a pair. Donaldson and Gomes each had a 2-for-5 days, scoring one and driving in another. Ramirez went 0-for-2, but he drew three walks to move over the 100-walk mark for the season.

“I try to take every at bat the same,” said Brantley after the game. “I go to the plate trying to make sure I get a good pitch to drive and make it possible to get that runner in from third.”

Bradley earned the golden sombrero for the Red Sox, striking out in four of his five trips to the plate on the night. Eight of nine Sox starters recorded a hit, but no Boston hitter had a multi-hit effort.

Progressive Field was sold out for the second-to-last home game of the 2018 regular season schedule, with 35,095 in attendance.

The Indians will look to prevent Red Sox history for one more day in the series finale on Sunday in a special 7:05 PM ET start on ESPN. Rookie right-hander Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.27 ERA) will get the nod in the final home game at Progressive Field this year. Hector Velazquez (7-2, 3.18), who gave up a hit and got an out in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game, will make his eighth start of the season.

Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images

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