Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians 5-410th inning walk off over the visiting Detroit Tigers, who opened a three-game series at Progressive Field with the best record in baseball and riding a six-game winning streak.
1) Michael Brantleyextended his home hitting streak to 16 games with a two-out double in the third inning, then capped the night with a 10th-inning walkoff home run. It’s only May 19th and already Brantley has nine long balls. He had only 10 all of last year and has combined for just 26 over the last five seasons. He conitued his running joke after the game that his new source of strength is “daddy strength” from carrying around his newborn.
2) Pushed for more details, Brantley said he did focuse his off season conditining on getting stronger to help him drive the ball more.
“I don’t know exactly (why he’s hitting more home runs),” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But he’s fun to watch. His legs are stronger. I think as good hitters get to know themselves and the league, it evolves into more production. I don’t think you see him selling out to hit home runs. Balls that used to be doubles, he’s driving, which is good to see. He is still the same hitter but with more home runs.”
3) It’s way over due, but the Nick Swisher the Indians thought they were getting when they signed the free agent to a five-year deal prior to last season, finally showed up Monday. The Tribe’s designated hitter for the night collected two hits, including driving in a run in the host’s two-run seventh inning.
4) As this nugget from ESPN reminded us just before Mondays’ game got underway, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrerahas a 1.018 career OPS against the Indians. For historical reference, consdier that only four players have a better mark in last 100 years - Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Edgar Martinez and Lou Gehrig. That’s some pretty big baseball royalty there, but it gives modern-day fans an idea of just how good – and feared – Cabrera is.
5) Along the same lines, but to a lesser extent, is former Indian (even after all these years, it still pains me to type that) Victor Martinez. One of – if not the – best two-strike hitter currently in the game continued to prove as much Monday. Ever since the Tribe made the mistake of trading the former catcher to the Boston Red Sox in a deal that brought Justin Masterson to Cleveland, Martinez has killed Indians pitching. He did it again Monday when he led off the second inning with a two-strike (what else) home run that tied the game, 1-1. The homer made him 7-for-13 lifetime against Indians pitcher Corey Kluber.
“We were trying to go inside,” Kluber said of the pitch Martinez deposited in the stands. “But in hindsight, maybe we should have gone up and in. Or down and in. But it was still a pretty good pitch (with) two strikes. What can ya say?”
6) Victor did the damage with a homer, but Cabrera took advantage of the Indians shift, picking up three hits, including a pair of singles through the right side of an infield that would have been sure outs if not for the shift the Indians played on him. Holding the dangerous hitter to a double and two singles was a mini victory of sorts for Kluber. After Kluber backed him off the plate a little in the first inning before striking him out, Cabrera stared in long and noticably at Kluber. But the robotic Kluber wasn’t the least bit imtimidated.
“I saw him look at me a little bit after the first pitch but I didn’t really pay attention to him after that,” Kluber said with a shrug. Ok then. Tribe fans can only hope the rest of the Indians pitchers follow Kluber’s lead.
7) Rookie first baseman Jesus Aguilar drove in two of the Indians five runs on the nigth, including picking up his first major league hit and RBI. Ywt, it’s possible that Aguilar could be sent back down to Triple-A Columbus Tuesday when the Indians need to clear two roster spots to activate veteran DH Jason Giambi and starting pitcher Trevor Bauer.