It’s no stretch to say that the Indians are the biggest surprise in baseball so far this season. However, one of the more remarkable parts about their hot start is that they’ve been winning ballgames despite their cleanup hitter Carlos Santana struggling miserably with the bat.
While Santana has shown plenty of patience, his batting average has been sitting right around .200 for over two weeks now. But last night, he picked an opportune time to make his presence known.
Santana hit a walk-off grand slam off Joaquin Benoit with one out in the ninth in a thrilling 9-5 win over the Tigers.
The 25-year-backstop worked himself into a favorable 3-1 count, as he often does, and as he told Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he was looking dead red.
“I looked for a fastball, and he threw it,” Santana said. “I made good contact.”
The Indians have now won 11 consecutive home games while their 17-8 record in the best in the American League. They have set a new club record for wins in the month of April. This is all very exciting to watch for a team that many dismissed before the season even started, but it will be interesting to see if they can keep the magic going in May.
The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.
A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.