'Mr. Consistent': Santana homers to lift Tribe

Cleveland hangs on after challenged HBP calls in 7th to secure series-finale win

July 14th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- The number of times was asked if he was concerned whether participating in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby would ruin his swing was too high to count. Even if his time in the spotlight lasted only four minutes, many wondered if his consistency from the first half of the season would be altered coming out of the break.

Santana wasted little time providing an answer.

With the game tied and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Mr. Reliable delivered the go-ahead solo homer that lifted the Indians to a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field. The Tribe avoided getting swept, and it moved to 6 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the American League Central.

“It’s nice for us to get punched in the stomach and come right back,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That was a good ending, too. That would’ve been a tough day.”

Santana launched a homer in the second-half opener on Friday and had a quiet evening Saturday, but he continued his success in clutch situations this season in Sunday’s matinee. In 2019, he’s hit .317 (33-for-104) with seven homers and 19 RBIs when the game is tied.

“You don’t always expect it, just because like I’ve harped on … this game is a frustrating one, and [you] can never expect certain things,” Indians starter said. “But with him it’s hard not to. He’s Mister Consistent. He’s done an unbelievable job all year, coming up big for us time and time again.”

Replay review

Bieber had cruised through six innings, allowing just three hits, but that momentum quickly turned in the Twins’ favor in the seventh.

After Bieber walked the first batter of the frame, he threw an 86.3-mph slider that appeared to either hit off of ’s hand or the knob of his bat. The call on the field was a hit-by-pitch, but Francona asked for a second look. After a replay review, the ruling on the field was upheld, granting Garver first base.

“The first off-the-knob was -- I'll just bite my tongue on that one,” Bieber said. “Confident if that was a strike, I'm confident the result of the at-bat coming after that would be in our favor. It's frustrating. It's definitely frustrating. I thought I made some good pitches, but like I said, it's the way it shakes out, and we won, so I'm not gonna feel sorry for myself.”

“I went out a couple innings later, just because I wanted to, I was just asking,” Francona said. “Once it goes to New York, it’s up to them and that’s where I was having a little bit of a problem, because the explanation [was] that they have different views than we do. That was always told to us in Spring Training -- that to make it fair, they have the exact same view that we do, ‘cause if not, it’s not fair. We’re not going to challenge something that ... so I’d like to get that straight because that’s concerning.”

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice, but Bieber proved otherwise. After back-to-back singles by and , the first of which knocked in a run, Bieber threw a 93-mph fastball that appeared to hit off the knob of ’s bat with the bases loaded. Cave had little reaction, standing near the batter’s box, as the umpire ruled it a foul ball. But the Twins then challenged and this time the call was overturned, sending Cave down to first and pushing another run across the plate.

“Honestly, I wish I did it a little bit better, but it's the way the game is,” Bieber said. “It's frustrating sometimes. Sometimes things don't go your way. Unfortunately, that's kind of what replay is for, but even then, sometimes things don't go your way or your don't get the right break. That's how the game shakes out. Other than that, no comment.”

Escaping the sweep

relieved Bieber with the bases loaded and one out, but he gave up a bloop single to that tied the game. Perez then struck out and handed the ball to , who struck out on three straight pitches to escape the jam. then secured his 24th save in the ninth, allowing the Indians to steal the final game of the three-game series.

“We [need to] finish good this week,” Santana said. “We have four games with Detroit, and we play good against Detroit. And we’re fighting. ... Every game is very important for the team, especially since we’re fighting with the division and the Wild Card. Every game is big.”