Going, going, Gomes: 3-run homer in 9th lifts Indians
CLEVELAND — For eight innings, nothing. The Indians did everything in the ninth.
Yan Gomes hit a three-run homer with two outs off All-Star closer Greg Holland as Cleveland, down to its last strike several times, rallied for four runs in its last at-bat for Corey Kluber and stunned the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Tuesday night.
After Austin Jackson tied it with a two-out bloop RBI single, Gomes connected on the first pitch from Holland (2-3), driving it into the seats in center field to touch off a wild celebration in Progressive Field.
Gomes flung his helmet and skipped around the bases as the Indians players danced out of their dugout at the improbable walk-off win.
“That was unbelievable, man,” Gomes said. “It was some battle at-bats, too. Austin found the hole out there, but he battled his tail off. That’s the best closer in the NL, and maybe in the major leagues right now. We’ve seen him plenty of times. We all know a little about him. We were just trying to put some good at-bats together and trying to get a win for Corey.”
Kluber (10-3) deserved it. The right-hander gave up three hits, struck out 11, threw his second straight complete game and continued his dominance since returning from the disabled list on June 1.
But if not for Jackson’s heroics against Holland, the majors’ saves leader, and Gomes’ eighth homer, Kluber would have taken a tough loss. Until the Indians’ late rally, Charlie Blackmon’s homer on Kluber’s second pitch looked like it might stand up as the game’s only run.
“First couple hitters of the game, home run, single and then nothing,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Kluber’s latest gem. “It’s fun to watch. It’d be nice to score some runs so he could really enjoy it. He spent two and a half hours being grumpy, then you win.”
Holland walked Edwin Encarnacion with one out and struck out Carlos Santana before getting ahead of Jackson. In a two-strike hole, Jackson barely nicked a pitch before fouling off two more and dropping his game-tying RBI single into right-center, the flair just eluding a diving Blackmon.
“They all suck anytime you lose especially when it’s your fault,” Holland said. “Walking the tying run and the winning run was the key to the inning. Edwin had a good at-bat. The walk to Zimmer was more on me. I don’t think he ever swung. Jackson had a good at-bat. I thought it was a fly ball off the bat. He just hit it in a perfect spot.”
The Rockies honored late manager Don Baylor by hanging his No. 25 jersey in their dugout. Baylor, who died Monday at 68 after a long battle with cancer, led Colorado to the playoffs in 1995 — the expansion franchise’s third season.
Indians All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley sprained his right ankle in the fifth, going down after taking a few steps toward a fly ball. Brantley, who played in just 11 games last season following right shoulder surgery, started running after a fly to center when he pulled up. The 30-year-old dropped to the grass and had a concerned look on his face while being checked by a trainer.
Brantley, who was on the disabled list in June with a sprain to the same ankle, limped slowly off the field to an ovation and was helped down the dugout steps.
Francona said Brantley will undergo an MRI and the team should know more on Wednesday.
KLUBER WITH A CAPITAL K
Kluber is just the third pitcher to strike out at least eight in 13 consecutive starts, joining Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to accomplish the feat. Johnson did it three times, and Martinez twice.
Blackmon’s homer was the 100th of his career — and 27th leading off a game. He’s the 12th player in team history to reach the century plateau. He’s hit a major league-leading 21 leadoff homers since the start of 2015.
Rockies: OF Ian Desmond (strained right calf) took batting practice on the field before Tuesday’s game. There’s no timetable for his return. He’s been on the 10-day disabled list since July 16.
Indians: Francona said All-Star LHP Andrew Miller may need a few days beyond his stint on the 10-day disabled list to recover from right knee tendinitis. Miller was placed on the DL last week and is eligible to be activated on Aug. 12. Asked when the indispensable Miller will pitch once he’s activated, Francona quipped: “Five minutes after he’s off the disabled list.”
Trevor Bauer, who held the Yankees to one run in seven innings last week, starts the series finale for the Indians. Bauer lasted just 3 1/3 innings against Colorado earlier this season. Rookie Antonio Senzatela starts for the Rockies. He gave up two homers in a start against Cleveland in June but got the win.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.