CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Judging by what Indians Manager Terry Francona said pre-game, his talk with Michael Brantley must have gone well.
The two parties involved decided that Brantley was ready to hit at the very least, and the 30-year old outfielder did that. Fresh off of a 53-day stint on the 10-day disabled list, Brantley delivered a run of the mill 10-pitch at bat, which ended with a sharp single to right field.
His Manager was all smiles after seeing his veteran’s success.
“How ‘bout that? That was unbelievable,” Francona said. “We have a lot of guys right now, they go up to the cage to hit in between innings and (assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro) said, every single guy up there stopped and watched the entire at-bat. Just was a phenomenal at-bat. His level of concentration and then to fire a hit in there, that was really something.”
Already with a crowded outfield to pick from for the 25-man postseason roster, Brantley’s inclusion had gone from a burning question to a foregone conclusion. He would not be ready for October.
Though no singular at-bat makes a player ready for a World Series run, the question has re-emerged with one regular-season game left to play.
His neighbor in the clubhouse, converted center fielder Jason Kipnis, is hoping for the question to be a yes.
“He’s a professional hitter and that’s exactly what he brings to the plate and exactly why we’re excited to hopefully get him back just in time, hopefully get him some more ABs tomorrow,” Kipnis said. “But to do that and come up with that big hit and tie the game that inning, it was awesome. I was up on the railing the whole time.”
Also in Brantley’s corner was catcher Yan Gomes, who sat beside Kipnis and Brantley before Opening Day 2014 to announce that the trio had signed long-term extensions. Gomes had been by Brantley’s side last season as he missed that post-season run, and was hoping the outfielder would not have to miss another.
“I kind of know what he’s feeling right now, because I was in the same boat that he was, trying to get back and play some games before going into the playoffs,” Gomes said. “I know how hard it was for him. We talked a lot during the playoffs last year.”
With the single, Brantley raised his batting average through 89 games to .301 (101-for-336).
2017 Regular Season: Terminated
Corey Kluber’s 2017 regular season ended on Saturday on a five inning outing in which his scoreless innings streak of 32 also came to an end in the 4th.
In the most baseball of ways, such an incredible run came to its end on an infield single by White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who advanced to second on a groundout and was singled home on a broken-bat blooper by catcher Kevan Smith.
Kluber finishes his campaign as baseball’s leader in ERA (2.25), Win Probability Added (4.26), ERA- (50), WHIP (0.87) and K/BB ratio (7.4).
Saturday may have also been the final regular season outing for lefty reliever Tyler Olson. If that is the case, he will have finished the season with an ERA of 0.00, capping 29 straight scoreless appearances.
That mark would tie Brad Ziegler’s career-beginning scoreless appearance streak, which ranks behind Mike Myers’ 33 scoreless outings in 2000.
2 Million Dollar Baby
Saturday’s sellout crowd of 33,173 was the Indians’ 13th sellout of 2017, their most since they sold out 34 contests in 2001. That crowd also pushed Progressive Field to 2,018,102 patrons on the season, the 15th time in team history and first since 2008.