Michael Brantley's game-tying grand slam essentially broke the win probability charts
It looked like the Indians would just go quietly into the night on Tuesday. The Rangers had shut them out at Progressive Field, 6-0, over the first six and a half innings of play. A two-run rally in the home half of the seventh made it a 6-2 ballgame, but after being turned away in the eighth, the Rangers carried that four-run lead into the ninth.
Pretty good cushion, right? Well, the Indians loaded the bases, and despite Michael Brantley being down in the count, 0-2, with two outs, bedlam ensued:
Down to our last strike, Michael Brantley picked the perfect time to hit his first career grand slam.- Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 2, 2018
Take it away, Hammy. pic.twitter.com/nD7twHtubb
Indians annonucer Tom Hamilton nailed the feeling of disbelief that was flowing throughout the ballpark. Brantley and his teammates felt the same way:
MLB.com's Jordan Bastian talked to Brantley postgame.
"It was great. It was awesome to do it at home, in front of your home fans, so you get the cheers and not the boos. It came at a good time, where it got us back in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win the ballgame. I think that was most important."
And his approach with two strikes?
The same thing I'm thinking anytime. Get a good strike to hit. I don't change my approach with two strikes. I'm still trying to see the ball up and trying to get a good pitch to hit. Nothing changes with me."
In 926 career games, Brantley had never hit a grand slam, but that's not the only bit of unlikelihood the Indians had to face. Before his slam, the Rangers had a 95% win probability, according to FanGraphs. Going back to the end of the bottom of the eighth, it was even higher: 98.3%.
The grand slam caused a remarkable 53.9% jump in win probability for the Indians, which just looks silly on a chart:
Chart courtesy of FanGraphs
A game-tying slam hadn't happened that late in the game for the Indians in 38 years (Toby Harrah) and not for any team in the Majors since Kyle Seager's stunning 14th-inning slam for the Mariners against the White Sox on June 5, 2013:
In addition to Seager, Brantley also joined four other amusing names from the past 23 years of baseball to match this feat:
Even though the Indians ultimately lost in 12 innings, 8-6, Brantley can at least take solace in matching the likes of Carl Everett.