Aviles delivers win but brings much more to Indians
Cleveland Indians' Mike Aviles starts to celebrate after a single to drive in the winning run in the ninth inning for a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in a baseball game Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND — Mike Aviles is the epitome of a Terry Francona guy — plenty of versatility and available when needed.
With two outs in the ninth and a tie game, Aviles delivered when needed the most as he had an RBI single to give the Indians a 4-3 walk-off win over the Twins at Progressive Field. Cleveland had 11 walk-off victories last season, which was tied for second in the American League, but this was the first this year.
Aviles ended up going 3 for 4, which is his first three-hit game since July 26 of last season against Texas. May 7 also holds some significance when it comes to Aviles walk-offs. His other came on a sacrifice fly as a member of the Royals exactly three years ago when they beat the Athletics.
"It’s definitely fun, especially with a 12 p.m. game tomorrow. It’s always good not to play extra innings and get that big win at the end," Aviles said. "We know we have a good team and what we are capable of doing. Hopefully it helps us get rolling in the right direction."
On a night when the Indians made a plethora of good defensive plays, Aviles had one of the key ones. With two outs in the seventh, the game tied and runners on first and second, Trevor Plouffe hit a ball up the middle that was hot coming off the bat. But it struck the mound to slow down enough that Aviles was able to come up with it deep in the hole after diving for it and stepping on the bag at second to get the third out.
After starting the season with a .196 batting average (9 of 46), Aviles has begun to warm up and is 7 of 13 in his past four games. On the game-winning single, Aviles hit an 0-2 fastball off Casey Fein up the middle to score Asdrubal Cabrera, who led off the inning with a double. Lonnie Chisenhall got Cabrera to third with a sacrifice bunt but Yan Gomes couldn’t advance him after grounding to short.
"My first swing I was trying to hit it about 800 feet, which was kind of dumb because that’s not something I can do. After that swing I told myself to calm down," Aviles said. "All we needed was a base hit and a bloop would work. I had to go mentally on a two-strike approach of stay up the middle and see what happens."
Aviles can play all three outfield spots along with second, shortstop and third. Of his 16 starts, nine have come at third with three in left and two each at short and second. With Jason Kipnis on the disabled list, many figured that Aviles might see most of his time at second but Jose Ramirez will play the majority of the games.
With a limited bench, Aviles is more valuable in case Francona needs a late-inning substitution. After Michael Bourn tweaked his hamstring last Saturday, Aviles came in to play left in the fourth inning and Michael Brantley moved to center. Aviles ended up getting two hits in that game.
Francona says he knows how much Aviles is respected in the clubhouse but Aviles takes satisfaction in something else.
"I take pride in not messing up," he said. "When you bounce around you have to get your reps. Just one of those situations where you have to come prepared every day because you never know. I have a locker full of gloves. I don’t care what position it is but try and do something positive."
The Indians are 4-2 on the current homestand, which concludes on Thursday afternoon against the Twins.