Comeback: Brantley’s double lifts Indians past White Sox 2-1
CLEVELAND (AP) Michael Brantley pumped his fist, danced around second base and waited for the traditional soaking.
The water was as sweet as any champagne.
Brantley, forced to the outside during Cleveland’s magical ride in 2016 because of injuries, doubled home Francisco Lindor with two outs in the 10th inning as the Indians celebrated their AL championship and then beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 on Tuesday in their home opener.
Brantley could only watch and cheer for his teammates last October after undergoing two surgeries on his right shoulder. But he’s healthy now, and after playing in just 11 games last season, Brantley made the most of his first home game since May 10 with his game-winning hit.
”I don’t know if you can write it up any better,” he said.
Lindor walked with two outs off Tommy Kahnle (0-1) before Brantley sliced a 3-2 pitch down the left-field line. Lindor was running on the pitch and scored easily before bolting toward second to join his teammates in celebrating along with Brantley, who has overcome major obstacles in the past year.
”It was awesome,” said Lindor, who homered in the first. ”I was so happy for him. As soon as I touched home plate, I looked around and everyone was clapping for him, his family in the stands, it was pretty cool, special.
”He’s back. Brantley’s back.”
It was the dramatic ending the Indians didn’t get in their last home game, a 10-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series. Cleveland led the majors with 11 walk-off wins last season.
Bryan Shaw (1-0), who took the loss when the Cubs won their first title in 108 years, got the win.
Rookie Yandy Diaz should have been given a save after making a diving catch of Tyler Saladino’s line drive in the eighth with the game tied and runners at second and third.
”I can’t tell you what happened, because the ball just went into my glove,” Diaz said. ”I saw that the ball was in my glove when I got up off the ground.”
Edwin Encarnacion had a forgettable first home game for Cleveland.
The slugger, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians in January, grounded into inning-ending double plays in the sixth and eighth.
Encarnacion is batting just .185 (5 for 27) and is 0 for 11 with runners on.
”If we’re talking about Edwin struggling in about a month, I’ll be surprised,” manager Terry Francona said. ”I don’t think that will be one of the conversations we’re having.”
UP GOES FRAZIER
Todd Frazier finally found his swing for the White Sox.
Batting .059 at the start of the day with no extra-base hits in his first five games, the third baseman doubled and drove in Chicago’s only run with a fifth-inning homer.
”He’s handling it real well,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said of Frazier’s slump. ”I know internally he beats himself up a little bit, but he’ll be fine.”
Carlos Carrasco, who also missed the Indians’ postseason run with a broken right hand, allowed just one run and four hits in seven innings. It was his first start at home since Sept. 17, when he was struck by a line drive hit by Detroit’s Ian Kinsler.
RINGS AND THINGS
Lindor received the loudest ovation during pregame ceremonies, when an AL title flag was hoisted, the club’s first pennant since 1997 was unveiled and the Indians received championship rings.
Injured second baseman Jason Kipnis said it was important to reflect on last year’s journey.
”I think one peek into the yearbook isn’t going to hurt before we do this,” he said. ”This team is ready to turn the page.”
White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon (bursitis in left biceps) is playing catch in Arizona but has yet to throw off the mound and there’s no definitive timetable on when he’ll join the club. He went 9-10 in 28 starts last season.
Indians: Kipnis is making progress as he deals with inflammation in his right shoulder. The Indians intend to have him play in three straight minor league games – possibly one as a DH – this week. … RF Lonnie Chisenhall is poised to come off the 10-day disabled list. Chisenhall injured his right shoulder crashing into the outfield wall on March 24.
White Sox: LHP Derek Holland is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in his past three road starts.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar will be pitching on six days’ rest after getting a no-decision in his first start. Salazar has a 5-2 career record against the White Sox.
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