The Indians' offense has shown it can beat teams in any manner of ways this postseason, whether it be with baserunning, timely hitting or the big home run.In Saturday's 2-1 win over Toronto in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Cleveland got that big homer from a likely source
The Indians' offense has shown it can beat teams in any manner of ways this postseason, whether it be with baserunning, timely hitting or the big home run.
In Saturday's 2-1 win over Toronto in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Cleveland got that big homer from a likely source -- Carlos Santana -- but in an unorthodox way for the Tribe's powerful catcher. Game 3 is set for Monday night in Toronto.
• ALCS Game 3: Monday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS/Sportsnet/RDS
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Game 2 was scoreless when Santana, a switch hitter, stepped into the right-handed batter's box to lead off the bottom of the second against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ. Santana watched two fastballs come in, but swung hard at the third, clubbing the ball with an exit velocity of 109.6 mph, according to Statcast™, over the 19-foot wall in left at Progressive Field.
"I tried to get something over the middle," Santana said of the at-bat after the game. "Happ has very good control middle and away, so I concentrated and tried to hit the ball hard."
Mission accomplished. It was Santana's hardest-hit home run from the right side in 2016, and his second-hardest homer while batting from the right side in the Statcast™ era, trailing only a 110.9-mph blast he hit on Oct. 3 of last year. Only four of Santana's 34 homers in the regular season came off left-handed pitchers, and the Cleveland DH's slugging percentage against lefties was a modest .395 -- nearly 150 points lower than his percentage against righties this year.
Happ is not just any southpaw, either; the Toronto starter had not lost a road start since June 6 and had pitched five innings of one-run ball against the Rangers in his last outing in Game 2 of the ALDS. Santana's homer, however, was the second-hardest hit blast allowed by Happ all season; only Manny Machado's 112.7-mph homer off Happ on Aug. 30 was clubbed harder.
Santana's unusual homer proved that just about everything is breaking the right way for an Indians club that still has not lost a game in October -- and sits just two wins shy of its first World Series appearance in 19 years.
"We are confident," Santana said. "We have a very good team that is hungry to play every day. We have to keep it up."
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com.