Embracing new role, Brennan shines in 12-inning win

April 9th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- Lefty reliever may have picked up the win on Sunday afternoon (the first of his career), but if position players could receive a win, this one would’ve gone to .

It may not have been the way envisioned his first “big” hit going for his new club, but all he needed was a slow chopper to second base to plate an aggressive José Ramírez from third, handing Cleveland a walk-off 7-6 victory over the Mariners in the 12th inning. It marked Bell’s first walk-off plate appearance since July 15, 2018, as a member of the Pirates against the Brewers.

But none of it would’ve been possible without Brennan.

The offense had been stifled. Runners found their way on base, but the Guardians failed to deliver the timely hit (which has often been the case for the club so far this season). It wasn’t until Brennan’s help with two outs in the bottom of the ninth that Cleveland rediscovered its fight.

With runners on first and second, Brennan sent a high fly ball into deep right field. Luckily for the Guardians, right fielder Teoscar Hernández, who was in position to make a tough catch, instead misplayed it, and the ball bounced off his glove and onto the warning track for a double to score both runners and tie the score at 3-3.

“Thousands of at-bats over your career,” Brennan said when asked what calms him in big moments. “I feel like I've been prepared for this. That’s the moment every kid dreams of. Just wanted to take advantage of it.”

And he did.

But Brennan didn’t stop there.

After Trevor Stephan masterfully worked out of trouble in the 10th to keep the Mariners off the board, Enyel De Los Santos didn’t have the same luck in the 11th. Seattle scored two runs, putting the pressure on the Guardians to either answer or go home having been swept for the second consecutive year in the home opening series. That’s when Brennan stepped back in.

started the comeback with a leadoff double in the bottom of the inning, plating Josh Naylor, the automatic runner, from second base. Then, with the infield in and the tying run on third, Brennan kept his composure at the plate and served a single through the right side of the infield, knocking in the tying run yet again.

“Brennan had a heck of a game,” said Guardians starter , who struck out six and gave up two runs in seven innings. “The way he’s stepping up in a big role, coming off the bench and doing what he does, it’s really cool to watch.”

Those two hits made Brennan the first Cleveland player since at least 1973 to have two game-tying hits in the ninth inning or later. What would Brennan say if someone told him he’d claim that honor?

“I think you’d be lying to me,” he said with a grin.

Brennan has been a boost to this club since he was first called up to the big leagues on Sept. 21. He has yet to get a lot of playing time, but he's found ways to be impactful in whatever manner he’s used. Brennan was penciled into the Guardians’ Opening Day lineup in Seattle partially because a right-handed pitcher was on the mound and partially because manager Terry Francona wanted to reward him for such an impressive spring campaign. But since then, his playing time has been sporadic, often coming off the bench in pinch-hitting scenarios.

“It’s definitely different for me, but [I'm] kind of welcoming the opportunity,” Brennan said. “It’s pretty cool. I get to live my dream out. Every day’s kind of a new day. I try to have a little bit of amnesia of what happened the night before and come back like it’s a new day.”

Maybe at some point this season Brennan will continue to get rewarded with more and more opportunities the more he delivers when he’s in the game. But for now, the Guardians are going to enjoy the fact that they know they have a weapon coming off the bench.

“For our team, I was thrilled. For him, I was really happy,” Francona said. “He’s had some tough at-bats. I mean, for a young kid, he’s coming in and facing closers, not playing every day like he’s used to, and he just is always ready.

“They’re young, but they’re not going to back down and they’re not pouting, so let’s go play.”