Francona likes Santana's approach against shift
CLEVELAND -- Carlos Santana took a look at Boston's extreme defensive shift in the sixth inning and the Indians catcher decided he would try to slap a pitch down the third-base line. On the first pitch from Alfredo Aceves, Santana took an awkward stride and ultimately checked his swing.
Watching from the dugout, Indians manager Terry Francona was reminded of one of his dad Tito's former teammates with the Tribe.
"Vic Davalillo," said a smirking Francona, referring to the diminutive outfielder who suited up for Cleveland from 1963-68. "I think [Santana's slap attempt] caught everybody by surprise. If he would've hit that, I don't know where it would've gone. Yeah, that was interesting."
Francona actually liked Santana's idea, considering the situation.
The Indians were trailing the Red Sox, 5-0, and Santana was leading off the sixth with sluggers Nick Swisher, Jason Giambi and Mark Reynolds set to follow him in the order. The catcher got out of his typical approach -- at least on the first pitch -- and wound up drawing a walk. Swisher and Giambi followed with back-to-back home runs.
"The idea is good," Francona said of trying to beat the shift. "When you're down, when you can't tie the game with one swing, getting on base is the most important thing. I've talked to [Giambi] about that a lot. He told me, 'Yeah, I've bunted before. I'm not too proud.' When you can't tie it up, I love it."
Francona paused, and then smiled.
"Now, again," he added, "I'm not sure about the footwork."