Brantley’s homer in 10th lifts Indians over Tigers
Once he discarded his bat, rounded the bases and tossed his helmet, Michael Brantley was doused with water by his celebrating teammates.
Just like that, a four-game losing streak and a forgettable weekend were washed away.
Brantley homered with two outs in the 10th inning off Al Alburquerque, giving the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 win over the drowsy Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
Brantley connected on a 3-2 pitch from Alburquerque (1-1), driving it into the Tigers’ bullpen to end Cleveland’s four-game slide. Brantley held onto his bat until he nearly reached first base, unsure if the ball was going to clear the wall.
"I was nervous," Brantley said. "I didn’t know what do."
After rounding third, Brantley flung his helmet to the side and received a wet welcome home. He was sprayed with bottles of water and then drenched by a bucket dumped over his head during a postgame interview.
"It was cold," he said.
It was worth it.
Brantley’s homer warmed the Indians, who have seen errors and losses pile up lately. Over the weekend, they were outscored 30-6 in being swept by Oakland. With the first-place Tigers in town, the Indians couldn’t afford to fall any further in the AL Central, and Brantley gave them a dramatic win in the opener.
"As long as we win, that’s the main thing," manager Terry Francona said. "But the way it ended — that was great."
Scott Atchison (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th, retiring Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez for the first two outs.
Detroit’s J.D. Martinez hit a pinch-hit homer in the ninth off Cody Allen to tie it 4-all, but the Tigers couldn’t muster more magic in extra innings.
The Tigers, who arrived just three hours before the first pitch because of travel delays from Boston, had their 11-game road winning streak ended.
"We knew the game would end at some point, and we’d be able to go back and get some sleep," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We were hoping to go back and get some sleep with a win, but it wasn’t to be."
Rookie Jesus Aguilar had two RBIs for the Indians.
Martinez hit his 11th homer for the Tigers, who despite the loss have won 19 of the last 26 against Cleveland.
With Detroit two outs from losing its road winning streak, Martinez homered off interim closer Allen to tie it 4-all.
Batting for shortstop Andrew Romine, Martinez drove a 1-0 pitch over the wall in center, just over the glove of leaping outfielder Michael Bourn at the wall. It was Martinez’s first homer in 40 at-bats and it came at the perfect time for the sleep-deprived Tigers, who earlier rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie it in the fifth.
The Indians took a 4-3 lead in the seventh on Aguilar’s sacrifice fly.
Cleveland badly needed a strong outing, and Corey Kluber came through. The right-hander allowed eight hits and struck out eight in seven innings. He contained the AL’s best hitting club and didn’t show any fear while pitching inside to Cabrera, who didn’t seem pleased with the right-hander’s challenge.
Kluber set the tone early when he started Cabrera off with a high, inside pitch in the first that annoyed baseball’s most feared hitter. Cabrera took his time getting back into the batter’s box as Kluber waited patiently. Cabrera, who came in batting .417 with three homers against Kluber, struck out and then shot a menacing stare toward the right-hander.
"I saw him looking at me," Kluber said, "and I just ignored it. You got to keep them honest."
The Tigers, who walked into Progressive Field wearing pajama-like travel suits after their long day, tied it 3-3 in the seventh on a two-run double by No. 9 hitter Rajai Davis.
Nick Swisher and Aguilar hit RBI singles in the fifth off Detroit starter Drew Smyly, who was the only well-rested Tigers player. He spent Sunday night in Cleveland while his teammates were stuck in Boston, where they were forced to spend an extra night due to mechanical problems with their plane.
The Indians went 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position against the Athletics before Swisher’s base hit.
NOTES: Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland watched the game from the press box. Leyland, who retired after last season, is a special assistant to general manager Dave Dombrowski. … Detroit starters came in with a major league-best 2.64 ERA. … The Indians plan to activate DH Jason Giambi from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. The 43-year-old has been out with a calf strain since May 5. … Indians OF Michael Brantley has hit safely in 16 straight home games. … Indians RHP Trevor Bauer will be recalled to start Tuesday’s game against Justin Verlander.