CLEVELAND -- The second that Bradley Zimmer connected on a 3-1 fastball from Angels starter Jesse Chavez, the crowd at Progressive Field erupted. Zimmer took a brief moment to watch before beginning his trot to first, as the ball landed in the bullpen beyond the center-field wall.The end result was
CLEVELAND -- The second that Bradley Zimmer connected on a 3-1 fastball from Angels starter Jesse Chavez, the crowd at Progressive Field erupted. Zimmer took a brief moment to watch before beginning his trot to first, as the ball landed in the bullpen beyond the center-field wall.
The end result was Zimmer's first career grand slam, which gave the Indians a 6-0 lead in the second inning Tuesday's 11-7 extra-inning win over the Angels. Zimmer's slam would end up being the first of two for the Indians on the night, as designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion belted a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 11th.
With Encarnacion's grand slam, the Indians became the first team in Major League history to hit two grand slams in one game with the second being a walk-off.
"[Hitting the grand slam] was definitely one of the highlights of my career, so far," Zimmer said. "It was an exciting moment, and to be able to cap off that big inning there, and Eddie to later come up to do his thing, we just keep rolling."
Per Statcast™, Zimmer's slam traveled a projected 435 feet and had an exit velocity of 112.2 mph. It was the hardest-hit homer by an Indian in the regular season since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. The only home run that was smacked harder since then was hit by Roberto Perez (112.9 mph) in the 2016 postseason. Additionally, the Tribe's rookie center fielder now has three of the team's six hardest base hits this season.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Zimmer's big fly, his sixth home run of the season, came after Chavez had issued three straight walks to Austin Jackson, Yan Gomes and Giovanny Urshela, the latter of which plated the Tribe's second run. Chavez had thrown 11 straight balls before getting a 2-0 fastball over to Zimmer. Two pitches later, Zimmer brought the crowd to its feet, breaking the game wide open for the moment.
"It was awesome," Zimmer said. "I mean, he was struggling to throw strikes there. I just stayed with my approach and didn't give in. He left the ball out over the plate, and I put a pretty good swing on it."
It marked the third grand slam that the Indians have hit this season, with Encarnacion hitting the fourth. The first was by Francisco Lindor on April 5 against the Rangers, and the second by Lonnie Chisenhall on April 14 against the Tigers.
Zimmer finished the night at the plate going 3-for-5 with the grand slam, two singles, two stolen bases and a walk. The big night came at the right time for Zimmer, who entered play on Tuesday in the midst of a slump. In his previous 10 games, Zimmer had only hit .188 (6-for-32) with two doubles, four RBIs, four walks and 13 strikeouts.
Defensively, Zimmer made a key mistake in the sixth inning, as he failed to make a diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Yunel Escobar. The ball skipped by Zimmer and allowed the tying run to score from first, making it a 7-7 game.
Zimmer redeemed himself, however, in the top of the 10th, as he made a leaping catch and banged into the wall in center to take away the potential go-ahead hit from Ben Revere. According to Statcast™, Zimmer had to cover 89 feet to make the play, making it a three-star catch.
"When you run full speed into [the wall], it's not too friendly," Zimmer said. "It didn't feel good, but making that play makes it worth it."
"Everybody talks about tools," Indians manager Terry Francona added. "He can show them in a number of ways, whether it's on the bases or hitting for power or making a catch up against the wall. It's pretty exciting to watch."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.