CLEVELAND -- The Indians' clubhouse was quiet to the point that the steady hum of the air conditioning was audible late Tuesday night. It was a drastic contrast to the raucous environment that overtook Progressive Field in the ninth inning, when Michael Brantley belted a dramatic, game-tying grand slam.
In a near-empty and subdued locker room, Brantley stood at his locker following a tough 8-6 loss in 12 innings to Texas. With one swing, he helped erase what had been a frustrating night in the batter's box for Cleveland's lineup. Then, the Tribe's taxed bullpen could not capitalize on Brantley's heroics.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
"Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the win," Brantley said. "But we'll keep battling. Never-die attitude. My teammates did a great job of even giving me that opportunity in the ninth inning right there. It was a hard-fought loss."
A lack of offensive production early -- Cleveland went 2-for-19 with runners on base in the first eight innings -- and some relief troubles paved the way to the loss column.
Lefty Jeff Beliveau, who played a key role in Monday's win, was responsible for three Texas runs in the seventh. Righty Nicholas Goody escaped jams in both the 10th and 11th innings, but he flinched in the 12th in the form of back-to-back homers off the bats of Joey Gallo and Isiah Kinder-Falefa.
Under different circumstances, Goody likely would not have been in the game in that situation; closer Cody Allen logged 41 pitches on Tuesday and was unavailable, and lefty Andrew Miller is on the disabled list. And, as the game reached a dozen innings, manager Terry Francona only had righty Zach McAllister left.
"We're trying to go as far as we can," said Francona, who noted that the Indians may need to call up some bullpen reinforcements soon.
The silver lining for the Indians exists in the fight shown over the past two games by an offense that exited April with a collective .231/.300/.397 slash line. In Tuesday's 7-5 win, the Tribe churned out five late runs to hold off the Rangers. Monday's defeat included a two-out, two run double by Jason Kipnis in the seventh and Brantley's shot in the ninth.
In the home half of the ninth, Francisco Lindor and Kipnis connected for consecutive one-out singles, loading the bases against closer Keone Kela. Brantley stepped in with two outs and swiftly fell behind, 0-2. That is when Kela hung a curveball, which Brantley drilled over the wall in right for his first grand slam in 3,930 career plate appearances, pulling the game into a 6-6 deadlock.
Indians starter Mike Clevinger, who turned in 6 2/3 solid innings, was in the clubhouse at the time of the blast.
"Sitting at my locker," Clevinger said. "Kela was throwing some electric stuff. As soon as he hit it, we could hear [the fans] erupt right before we erupted inside. We were like, 'Oh my God, what happened?' And then we saw it happen [on the clubhouse TV]. And then it was just amazing. A good moment."
On this night, however, it was only that.
"It was great," Brantley said of his slam. "It was awesome to do it at home, in front of your home fans, so you get the cheers and not the boos. It came at a good time, where it got us back in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win the ballgame. I think that was most important."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kipnis bests Fister: Rangers starter Doug Fister has given the Tribe fits since his days in the Detroit rotation. Last year, the veteran righty toyed with Cleveland again, spinning a complete-game one-hitter for the Red Sox. Fister was up to his old tricks on Tuesday, when he blanked the Indians for the first six innings. Kipnis ended the starter's outing and ignited the late rally with his two-run double in the seventh.
Gallo robs Kipnis: The Indians had the makings of a rally at the start of the third, when Tyler Naquin was hit by a pitch from Fister, who then issued a walk to Bradley Zimmer. Lindor then chopped into a 4-6-3 double play, putting the frame in Kipnis' hands. With a runner on third, Kipnis sliced a pitch into left field, where Gallo hustled to make a lunging catch, tumbling to the ground after the grab. Per Statcast™, Gallo covered 45 feet in 3.4 seconds on a play that had a 52-percent catch probability.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Indians catcher Yan Gomes found himself involved in a pair of replay-related plays on Tuesday night. In the second, Gomes struck out on a 1-2 pitch that nicked his bat before hitting his leg. The Indians tried to challenge that it was a foul ball, but the umpires checked with the replay center in New York, where it was ruled that the play in question was non-reviewable. That led to an inning-ending strikeout.
In the fifth, Gomes legged out an infield single, but he was ruled out after a nice diving stop and throw by shortstop Jurickson Profar. The Indians challenged that call, which was overturned, but they did not score in the inning.
HE SAID IT
"I sit here and say a lot of times, 'If you can get the tying run to the plate, we'll win some of those games.' Once we got that tied, I felt like we were going to win. We're at home. We get the last at-bat. It didn't work." -- Francona
"I feel like it's almost a similar story to last year. A little bit of a slow start, even though we're still in the first. It's still like, 'Hey, what's going on?' But, we're in first place and we still haven't even really come together yet. That's a lot of promise to have that -- to be in first place and not even feel like you've played your team game yet." -- Clevinger
Brantley's grand slam marked the first game-tying grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning or extra innings since Kyle Seager achieved the feat on June 5, 2013, for the Mariners. It was Cleveland's first game-tying grand slam in a ninth inning since Toby Harrah on July 20, 1980, in Oakland. The Indians' last game-tying grand slam in any inning was by Tony Bernazard in the fifth against the Angels on June 10, 1987. More >
Indians ace Corey Kluber (4-1, 2.18 ERA) returns to the mound on Wednesday, when Cleveland closes out its series with Texas at 1:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner is 3-1 with a 3.73 ERA in his career vs. the Rangers. Texas will counter with lefty Matt Moore (1-3, 5.33 ERA).