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Indians' walk-off victory extends home streak to 14

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CLEVELAND -- A fast, shocking start is now historic.

The Cleveland Indians have never opened a season like this at home.

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Not ever.

Michael Brantley drew a bases-loaded walk with one out in the ninth inning off Tampa Bay closer Kyle Farnsworth to force in the winning run and give Cleveland its 14th consecutive victory at home -- and another dramatic one -- 5-4 against the Rays on Tuesday night.

The victory continued the surprising Indians' recent run of late-inning magic at Progressive Field, where they have won four in a row in their final at-bat. And, Brantley's walk-off walk made them 14-2 at home for the first time in 111 years.

"That's crazy," said closer Chris Perez (3-1), who picked up the victory with a scoreless ninth. "It's definitely something that we enjoy and we're enjoying it while we're doing it, but it's not what's driving us. We've got bigger goals in mind and we're looking at the big picture for sure."

Cleveland loaded the bases in the ninth against Joel Peralta (1-2) before Farnsworth came on and issued his first walk in 16 outings this season. It was the 11th walk given up by Tampa Bay pitchers.

Brantley and Grady Sizemore hit home runs for the Indians, who in addition to their best start at home since 1901 are 7-0 this season against AL East teams, a stat that could convince skeptics they are a legitimate contender after losing 93 games in 2010.

With every victory, the Indians' belief grows that they're in it for the long haul.

"A win is a win, either in May or September," Perez said. "They all count the same. Especially with the way the rest of the division has kind of stubbed their toe and got off to a slow start, for us to get off to this hot start and put some distance behind everybody, it's nice. That's the name of the game.

"Usually the Phillies and the Yankees, those teams are the ones doing that. But we're doing it. It's just going to help us later in the year when we do hit that tough stretch or that weeklong stretch where you don't seem to do anything right."

Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria homered for the Rays, who came in with baseball's best road record but had their winning streak stopped at four.

Tampa Bay dropped to 2-19 in its past 21 games in Cleveland.

"Too many walks and too many mistakes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We also missed some signs. Three of their five runs we kind of gave to them."

Shin-Soo Choo walked to open the ninth off Peralta before Carlos Santana singled to right, sending Choo into third with a headfirst slide. Maddon had Travis Hafner walked to load the bases and Peralta was lifted for Farnsworth.

Tampa Bay brought in an extra infielder, and the strategy worked for one batter when Orlando Cabrera's bouncer was snagged by leaping shortstop Reid Brignac, who threw home for the force. However, Farnsworth couldn't find the strike zone and after nearly hitting Brantley on the previous pitch, he bounced a 3-2 fastball in the dirt, bringing home Santana and sending the Indians to another dramatic victory.

"It was a fastball I threw in the dirt," Farnsworth said. "I just pulled it."

The Indians missed numerous opportunities, going 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, but still managed to win.

"We continued to go hard," manager Manny Acta said. "You can feel it in the dugout. They just keep saying it's our game. Let's take it. Let's take it. It's our game. Things weren't going very good. That's being Captain Obvious with the way things went.

"But, hey, we got the win. That's what's important. A win is a win."

Cleveland's Josh Tomlin had another quality start, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander has gone at least five innings in all 19 of his major-league appearances. He was in line to get his fifth victory before Longoria touched up reliever Vinnie Pestano.

Brantley's second home run gave the Indians a 2-1 lead in the fourth off Tampa starter Andy Sonnanstine.

The Rays tied it at 1 in the fourth on Joyce's home run, the eighth given up by Tomlin this season.

Sizemore opened the first with his sixth home run. It was Sizemore's 22nd career leadoff homer, extending his club record, and a fitting way for the Indians to start a six-game homestand.

While they have been picking up believers with their solid all-around play for weeks, the Indians have not yet been embraced by all Cleveland fans, who like the chilly spring weather, have been slow to warm up to one of baseball's surprise teams.

Notes

  • The start was delayed for 1 hour, 35 minutes by rain that never arrived at the ballpark as thunderstorms averted downtown.
  • The Indians will activate RHP Carlos Carrasco on Wednesday to start. He has been on the DL since April 28 with a strained elbow.
  • Tampa Bay LHP J.P. Howell's comeback is moving forward. The 28-year-old, who hasn't pitched since 2009 and underwent shoulder surgery last summer, will throw consecutive bullpen sessions later this week. Maddon said it's a sign Howell's "close to coming back."
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Asdrubal Cabrera (left) celebrates with Michael Brantley, whose walk-off walk lengthens Cleveland's home streak.  (US Presswire)
Asdrubal Cabrera (left) celebrates with Michael Brantley, whose walk-off walk lengthens Cleveland's home streak. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Cleveland

M. Brantley
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Tampa Bay

M. Joyce
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Tampa Bay Rays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Sam Fuld, LF5000011 .238
    Elliot Johnson, LF0000000 .237
Ben Zobrist, 2B3100111 .282
Evan Longoria, 3B4121001 .300
Matt Joyce, RF4122001 .356
B.J. Upton, CF4010021 .260
Casey Kotchman, 1B4010002 .348
Sean Rodriguez, SS3110002 .211
   a- Johnny Damon, PH0000100 .256
    Reid Brignac, SS0000000 .195
Dan Johnson, DH4000012 .122
John Jaso, C2000000 .239
   b- Kelly Shoppach, PH-C2011001 .170
Totals3548425  
a-walked for S. Rodriguez in the 9th
b-singled for Jaso in the 7th
Batting
2B - Evan Longoria (4, Tomlin), Matt Joyce (11, Tomlin), Casey Kotchman (4, Tomlin), Sean Rodriguez (7, Tomlin)
HR - Evan Longoria (2, Pestano), Matt Joyce (3, Tomlin)
RBI - Evan Longoria (6), Matt Joyce 2 (14), Kelly Shoppach (5)
SB - Johnny Damon (5, 2nd base off Perez/Santana)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Kotchman-S. Rodriguez-Sonnanstine, Zobrist-S. Rodriguez-Kotchman, S. Rodriguez-Zobrist-Kotchman
PB - John Jaso (2)
Tampa Bay Rays
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Andy Sonnanstine 3.1422522 2.87
Cesar Ramos 1.2100010 4.09
Brandon Gomes 0.1121200 2.45
Juan Cruz 1200110 2.57
Joel Peralta (L,1-2) 1.2211200 3.00
Kyle Farnsworth 0.1000100 0.73
IBB - Hafner by Joel Peralta
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Sonnanstine 68-33, Cesar Ramos 23-15, Brandon Gomes 17-7, Juan Cruz 26-14, Joel Peralta 27-13, Kyle Farnsworth 8-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Sonnanstine 4-3, Cesar Ramos 3-0, Juan Cruz 1-1, Joel Peralta 4-0, Kyle Farnsworth 1-0
Batters Faced - Andy Sonnanstine 18, Cesar Ramos 5, Brandon Gomes 4, Juan Cruz 6, Joel Peralta 8, Kyle Farnsworth 2
Cleveland Indians
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Grady Sizemore, CF5111005 .282
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS5031001 .282
Shin-Soo Choo, RF3010213 .227
Carlos Santana, C3110202 .221
Travis Hafner, DH3000214 .337
Orlando Cabrera, 2B5010005 .273
Michael Brantley, LF4122111 .294
Matt LaPorta, 1B2110210 .263
    Adam Everett, PR-3B0000000 .333
Jack Hannahan, 3B-1B1100200 .260
Totals315104114  
Batting
2B - Matt LaPorta (7, Peralta)
HR - Grady Sizemore (6, Sonnanstine), Michael Brantley (2, Sonnanstine)
SH - Jack Hannahan (1)
RBI - Grady Sizemore (11), Asdrubal Cabrera (23), Michael Brantley 2 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Asdrubal Cabrera (4)
SB - Asdrubal Cabrera (3, 2nd base off Ramos/Jaso), Michael Brantley (5, 2nd base off Gomes/Jaso)
Team LOB - 13
Cleveland Indians
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Josh Tomlin 6633131 2.70
Tony Sipp (H,10) 1100000 1.62
Vinnie Pestano (BS,2) 1111011 1.84
Chris Perez (W,2-1) 1000110 2.81
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Tomlin 93-59, Tony Sipp 9-7, Vinnie Pestano 19-11, Chris Perez 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Tomlin 4-11, Tony Sipp 2-1, Vinnie Pestano 2-0
Batters Faced - Josh Tomlin 25, Tony Sipp 4, Vinnie Pestano 4, Chris Perez 4
Game Information
Attendance - 13551
Game Time - 3:14
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Jerry Meals, Second Base - John Tumpane, Third Base - Dan Iassogna