CLEVELAND -- The angle at which the baseball left Josh Donaldson's bat gave Indians fans plenty of time to admire his work in the sixth inning on Friday night. It soared high over left field, creating a gasp and then a growing roar as the fans at Progressive Field anticipated its descent.
While it came in a 5-4 loss to the Tigers, Donaldson's first home run as a member of the Indians was a jaw-dropper. The Tribe's magic number to clinch a third straight American League Central title dipped to one with the Twins' 8-4 loss to the Royals.
"I'm glad he's on our side now," starter Josh Tomlin said, "watching that swing as opposed to actually having to face that swing. It was good to see him go out there and get his first hit, and get his first home run. That was a beautiful swing."
With one out in the sixth, Donaldson received an inside fastball on a 3-0 count from Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd and Cleveland's blockbuster addition -- playing in his first home game -- left no doubt that the pitch was a mistake. It dropped deep into a sea of fans standing on the Home Run Porch, which rests beyond the 19-foot-wall down the left-field line.
According to Statcast™, the solo jack -- one that came moments after Edwin Encarnacion launched his 31st homer -- had an exit velocity of 109.1 mph. More unique was the 42-degree launch angle, which was higher than any long ball generated by the Bringer of Rain in a Blue Jays uniform since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015.
The arching fly had a hang time of 6.8 seconds and reached its apex at 162 feet.
"It's been a while since I've had this type of adrenaline going through my body," Donaldson said. "I've been pretty excited to be here and play the last couple games. To have a little bit of success tonight was nice."
The home run tied the score at 2 and was Donaldson's first homer since May 3, when he also cleared the wall in Cleveland while playing for the Blue Jays. The homer was the sixth of the year for Donaldson, who was acquired from Toronto prior to the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason roster eligibility.
"Every time he plays, it kind of feels almost like an investment," manager Terry Francona said. "He's playing the heck out of third. We've just got to get him his at-bats."
Donaldson, who was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, following a lengthy comeback from a calf injury, will be out of the starting lineup on Saturday. Francona said the third baseman will play on Sunday, allowing Donaldson to use the club's off-day on Monday to his advantage.
"I feel really good with where I'm at right now," Donaldson said. "I'm just trying to leave it in their hands to see how this transpires. My body's been feeling pretty good. For me, it's more about being able to breathe on the field and slowing myself down, because I find myself at times, I want to go, go, go, and I want to force the issue at times. Tonight, I was able to make an adjustment."