Carlos Santana leads Indians past Tigers with walk-off grand slam

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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.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.