OAKLAND — The Indians were taking batting on Friday evening. Franmil Reyes was driving the ball to the deepest parts of the Oakland Coliseum as two grounds crew members watched in awe.
“That is the biggest human being I’ve ever seen,” said one.
That same human being homered into Suite 143 of Mount (Al) Davis, the monolith built in center field in a failed attempt to keep the Raiders in Oakland, in the eighth inning Saturday to supply the winning margin in the Indians’ 3-2 victory over the A’s.
The homer left Reyes’ bat at 109 mph, according to Statcast, and traveled 437 feet, landing high above the 400-foot mark on the center field fence through the open window of a suite. If you’re curious, Reyes is listed at 6-5 and 265 pounds.
“When I hit that ball, I thought I hit it harder that that,” said Reyes. “But it felt great, running around the bases, and getting that homer at a great time in the game. It felt good.”
Reyes’ 15th homer helped make five interesting innings by Cal Quantrill (2-2, 4.05) hold up for his second win in as many starts. It had to restore some confidence as well in right-hander Emmanuel Clase, who pitched a one-two-three eighth after going 0-3 with three blown saves in his previous four appearances, including Friday night’s 5-4 loss to Oakland.
James Karinchak, despite allowing a run in the ninth, slammed the door for his 10th save in 12 chances. The Athletics lead the AL with eight walk-off wins and it’s easy to see why. They made it a one-run game in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Sean Murphy and had two on with two out when Elvis Andrus grounded out to short to end it. That play was close enough for the A’s to challenge, but the out call stood.
“I was really happy for Emmanuel,” said manager Terry Francona. “That was a good inning for him. I was really hoping we could get him back out there today.”
The Indians took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on a Cesar Hernandez double and a sacrifice fly by Amed Rosario. Austin Hedges started the rally with a one-out single to left. Frankie Montas (8-8, 4.37), who suddenly lost the plate, walked No.9 hitter Daniel Johnson on four pitches. Hernandez, 0-6 coming out of the break, sent a high drive to right field that looked like a three-run homer.
But Oakland right fielder Seth Brown went back on the ball like he had a play, which caused Hedges and Johnson to slow down. When the ball bounced high off the scoreboard, Hedges, who was going back to second to tag, had to turn on the jets to get home as Johnson went to third with Hernandez running up his back. Hedges tied the score and Rosario’s sacrifice fly to center gave the Indians the lead.
“I thought it was out of the park,” said Francona, “but the way their right fielder played it, I thought he was going to catch it. And it messed with our baserunners as you could tell.”
Quantrill put the lead in immediate danger in the fifth. Tony Kemp reached on a single to the hole at short despite a fine effort by Rosario. Quantrill hit the next two batters, Aramis Garcia and Mark Canha, to load the bases with no one out.
Andrus, who entered the game hitting .371 (105-for-283) in his career against Cleveland, just missed doing serious damage with a bloop down the right-field line that went foul. Then Andrus did the unthinkable, he sent a ground ball to Ramirez, who started a neat 5-2-3 double play. Quantrill reloaded the bases by walking Matt Olson before retiring Mitch Moreland on a fly to center.
Quantrill stomped and flexed as he came off the mound in celebration. He allowed one run on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
“He had a couple of tough innings,” said Francona, “but with bases loaded and nobody out he gets that huge double play. Then pitches out of the jam. . .It wasn’t easy, but he did it. He competed like crazy.”
Quantrill was asked if he thought Andrus’ grounder was going to turn into a game-saving 5-4-3 double play. “Not until they turned,” he said.
The A’s took a 1-0 lead off Quantrill in the first on consecutive two-out doubles by Olson and Moreland.
The Indians missed a chance to reach Montas in the first. Rosario doubled and Jose Ramirez was hit in the hand with one out. Montas, however, struck out Franmil Reyes and retired Bobby Bradley on a fly ball to center.
The win was just the fourth by the Indians in their last 16 games against Oakland.
Next: RHP Zach Plesac (4-3, 4.31) will face the A’s Sunday at 4:07 p.m. The A’s have not announced a starter. Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM, WMMS and the Indians radio network will carry the game.
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
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