Santana Saves Hand Again, Delivers Walk-Off Solo Shot; Indians 6, Red Sox 5
Bob Toth | On 13, Aug 2019
While things have not been going so great for All-Star closer Brad Hand the last couple of days, the same cannot be said about his Midsummer Classic and Cleveland teammate Carlos Santana, as the Indians first baseman just cleared the 19-foot wall in left-center field to start the bottom of the ninth to give the Tribe a 6-5 walk-off win over the Boston Red Sox.
The Indians held a 5-1 lead after three innings against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, but Boston chipped into that advantage with a pair of runs in the fourth, one in the seventh, and a painful fifth run in the top of the ninth as Hand blew a save for the second straight day. As was the case on Sunday afternoon in the Indians’ 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins, Santana picked up his AL and Indians roster member by hitting a timely home run as Cleveland celebrated his milestone blast with a well-deserved on-field gathering at home plate.
The Red Sox tied the game with a run off of Hand in the top of the ninth. In to protect a one-run lead one day after blowing his third save of the season at Target Field, Hand got Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out to first on a good hustle play by Santana. Mookie Betts walked on Hand’s payoff pitch to put the tying run on base. Hand took the count full against Rafael Devers, who chased a high heater for the second out, but Xander Bogaerts drove the next pitch deep to right. Tyler Naquin took an odd route to the ball and made a leap at the fence, but the ball went just over his glove. Betts scored easily, running on contact with two outs, to tie the game at 5-5. J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked and Bogaerts stole third after Hand got ahead of Andrew Benintendi with two sliders for strikes before the Red Sox left fielder sent another drive deep to right. Naquin reeled that one in to end the inning.
Marcus Walden, who needed just two pitches to get two outs in the bottom of the eighth, came back out to the mound for Boston in the bottom of the ninth having held the last 31 batters to face him hitless. Santana took the count to 2-2 before sending a slider to the left of center and just over the fence for the walk-off winner, his 26th of the season and the 200th of his Indians career.
The win moved the Indians to 72-47 on the season and gave the club sole possession of first place in the AL Central for the first time since April 19. The Twins were idle on Monday ahead of a series this week with the Milwaukee Brewers.
All six Tribe runs scored via the long ball, with the first two coming in the bottom of the first after a 1-2-3 inning by rookie Zach Plesac to start the day. With two outs, Santana drew a walk off of Rodriguez after falling behind in the count, 0-2. Franmil Reyes, hitting cleanup for Yasiel Puig, took a first pitch strike before slugging a high fastball deep to the seats in front of the bullpen in right-center for his first homer with Cleveland, putting the Indians up by a 2-0 count.
The Sox cut into their deficit with two quick hits off of Plesac in the second to respond to Reyes’ home run. Martinez opened with a single to left and Benintendi drove the next pitch deep to left and off the wall, where it bounced away from Greg Allen for a double. Martinez motored around third looking to score from first, but Allen’s relay throw to Francisco Lindor to the plate just missed catching Martinez, giving the Red Sox a run to make it a 2-1 game. Benintendi was stranded at third as Plesac got the next three in order.
The Indians put two on in the second, but could not get the runners across. The third went much better for the offense, however, as three straight one-out hits led to a bigger lead for the Tribe. Santana reached on an infield single to third and Reyes got his second hit of the game with a single to left. Jose Ramirez, one pitch after a questioned check swing ball that Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez thought was a caught foul tip for the third strike, drove a low curveball 425 feet to the Home Run Porch in left for his 17th homer of the season. The three-run shot gave the Indians a 5-1 lead.
Against a tough lineup like Boston’s, even with their lackluster end results in the standings over the last couple of weeks, no lead is safe and that turned out to be the case on Monday night. The Red Sox responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth against Plesac as Martinez opened the inning with a solo blast to left. Benintendi walked before being erased on a double play by Vazquez, but Mitch Moreland singled to center with two down, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double to left-center by Brock Holt to make it a 5-3 score. Bradley Jr. left the runner in scoring position when he grounded out to second to end the inning.
Cleveland threatened again in the fourth, but could not respond to Boston’s previous rally. Naquin and Lindor each singled to start the inning. Oscar Mercado bunted into a fielder’s choice out at second for the first out. With runners on the corners, Santana popped to short and Reyes struck out swinging.
Plesac dodged a potentially messy situation in the fifth after Devers drew a one-out walk. Bogaerts sent a drive off of the base of the wall in left, but Allen nabbed him trying to go for two. With a runner at third but now two outs, Plesac got Martinez to ground to second.
Hunter Wood replaced Plesac after five and got the first two outs before Moreland lined a single off of his calf. He left the game for precautionary reasons and was replaced by Tyler Clippard, who struck out Holt after doing his entire pre-appearance warmup from the center of the diamond.
The Indians left two more base runners in the sixth against Rodriguez after singles by Naquin and Santana. Reyes struck out swinging to end the frame. It proved costly as the Red Sox pulled to within one when Bradley Jr. homered to left off of Clippard to start the seventh.
Cleveland stranded Ramirez at third against rookie lefty Darwinzon Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh after his leadoff double. Roberto Perez bunted him over to third, but Jason Kipnis struck out swinging before Allen grounded out to third.
Plesac did a five-and-fly for the Tribe after giving up three runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts. He left after 78 pitches, but the approach may have been for the best by manager Terry Francona as the Red Sox had made repeated adjustments to the right-hander.
Hand earned the win for the second straight game, despite blowing a save for the second straight game and fourth time since the final week of June. He allowed three base runners on a hit and two walks, but came away with his sixth win of the season.
Rodriguez worked out of a handful of jams for the Red Sox on Monday, but he took home a no-decision in his attempt to win a career-high 14th game. He allowed ten hits and three walks over six innings, striking out five while allowing five runs. Hernandez gave up a hit and a walk while striking out two in an inning and one-third before Walden gave up the game winner.
Santana led the way for the Tribe again with a three-hit effort while reaching a fourth trip via walk. He scored half of the Cleveland runs on the day, including the winning one. Reyes went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and Ramirez went 2-for-4 with three driven in on his 17th homer of the campaign. Naquin went 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk out of the nine-hole.
The Red Sox similarly had four different multi-hit batters in the lineup. Three through five hitters Bogaerts, Martinez, and Benintendi each had two hits while driving in a run. Martinez scored twice. Moreland went 2-for-3 before being lifted for pinch-hitter Sam Travis, who had a single in his only at bat.
Both clubs went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position while stranding nine.
Prior to the game on Monday, the Indians announced that Puig will miss all three games of their series against Boston after the 29-year-old outfielder dropped his appeal of a three-game suspension for his involvement in a brawl on July 30 in the final minutes of his time with the Cincinnati Reds in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Game two of three in a quick set at Progressive Field will pit Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger (7-2, 3.02 ERA) and Boston’s Chris Sale (6-11, 4.41) against one another on Tuesday night. Clevinger has won five straight starts and six straight decisions overall, dating back to his worst start of the season on June 28 in Baltimore. The 30-year-old Sale is coming off of one of his best starts of the season after firing eight shutout innings of two-hit baseball with 13 strikeouts in Boston against the Los Angeles Angels on August 8.
First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images