By: Brian Endicott
An off-season goal of the Cleveland Indians may have been to reduce pressure on Carlos Santana by bringing in an experienced middle-of-the-order bat. Last night, that goal saw some positive results.
Santana launched a 3-run blast to the deepest part of Progressive Field in the 3rd inning last night and Mike Napoli added a game winning homer in the 7th to defeat the Boston Red Sox 7-6. It was Napoli’s first home run with the Indians, coming against his former team.
The Indians signed Napoli to a 1-year, $7-million contract over the off season. The signing allowed the Indians to reduce pressure on Santana by allowing him to be an everyday designated hitter and bat 5th in the lineup instead of cleanup. Manager Terry Francona hopes these changes relax Santana and improve his overall production.
Santana’s home run lead the way for the Indians to open a 4-0 lead. They lead 5-2 going into the Boston 6th inning but back-to-back Boston solo home runs by David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez brought the Red Sox to within one and chased Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. Two defensive miscues with two walks sandwiched in between plated two more Boston runs giving them a brief 6-5 advantage.
The Indians came right back in the bottom of the 6th. Yan Gomes walked to lead-off the inning, moved to 3rd on a single by Marlon Byrd, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Juan Urbie.
Zach McCallister (W, 1-0) held Boston scoreless in the top of the 7th. Napoli’s blast off Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa (L, 0-1) broke the 6-all tie in the home half of the inning.
Bryan Shaw (H, 1) and Cody Allen (S, 1) held Boston scoreless through the 8th and 9th innings to secure the Tribe’s first win of the 2016 season.
Weather permitting, Danny Salazar will face off against Joe Kelly in the series rubber match. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10pm.