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Indians pull off odd walk-off bunt to beat Red Sox

By RYAN LEWIS • Aug 21, 2017 at 11:41 PM

CLEVELAND — Prior to Monday night's game against the Boston Red Sox, Indians manager Terry Francona was asked about the importance of the series, in part because the media and fans are already peering into October at potential postseason matchups.

Francona's answer was simple, saying they can't worry about those things too far in advance, and that it will "take care of itself."

Still, it's easy to see why a repeat of last year's American League Division Series would again be a strong matchup — especially if Monday's game was a preview.

Not that anyone should expect to see the ending of the Indians' 5-4 walk-off win at Progressive Field repeated for quite some time.

Trailing 4-3 entering the eighth and already having lost two players to injury, the Indians began to fight back. With two runners on and Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree on the mound, Edwin Encarnacion singled to left field to score Francisco Lindor and tying it at 4.

The Indians had a golden opportunity to build on that momentum, but left-handed reliever Robby Scott struck out both Jay Bruce and Bradley Zimmer to end the eighth with the score still tied.

The Indians finished the job in the ninth against Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman. Brandon Guyer opened the inning with a double to left field to set up Roberto Perez, who laid down a bunt that was fielded by Brock Holt. He threw to third to try to get Guyer as the lead runner, but his throw dribbled away into foul territory, allowing Guyer to score on a walk-off bunt.

It was one of the stranger ways to win a baseball game, but the Indians will certainly take it against one of the biggest postseason contenders in the American League.

Prior to the game, Francona also warned of the dangers of pitching around Rafael Devers, as the hitters behind him — namely Xander Bogaerts — can do enough damage of their own.

On Monday night, though, it was the hitters directly in front of Devers who prematurely ended Mike Clevinger's night with two key home runs.

Those two hitters, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez, each belted a two-run home run. Benintendi drilled a two-run home run to put the Red Sox ahead in the first inning and Ramirez's blast put the Red Sox on top 4-3 in the fifth.

That stretch in the fifth highlighted how the game can swing in a moment. With Mookie Betts on first and the Indians up 3-2, Betts took off for second and was at first called out. A manager's challenge reversed that call and, instead of having the bases empty with two outs, the next pitch was crushed for the go-ahead home run.

It wasn't all a party, as reliever Andrew Miller left the game in the seventh inning. Miller walked Betts and then exited after his first pitch to Benintendi and seventh of the night. He quickly called off Perez's throw back to the mound and then walked off with a trainer.

The club later announced that he re-aggravated his right knee patella tendonitis, which landed him on the disabled list on Aug. 2. He had only returned Friday from that injury, which affects the way he lands his plant leg during his delivery.

Carlos Santana also left the game after the seventh inning with lower back tightness, according to the club. He went 0-for-3 Monday night.

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(c)2017 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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