Mike Aviles‘ bat has given the Cleveland Indians reason to smile again.
Just when the Indians were wondering if they’d ever beat the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland third baseman belted a grand slam homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the second-place Indians past the first-place Tigers 4-0 in the American League Central Division battle.
The Indians lost the first two games of the three-game set and still fall to 15-4 against Detroit in the final season series record. They are 7 ½ games back from the Tigers who, barring a collapse, are likely to take another MLB divisional title.
But Aviles’ slam was just as critical for the Indians as Torii Hunter‘s dramatic walk-off three-run homer was for Detroit Thursday over the Oakland Athletics to avoid a four-game sweep to the A’s.
Despite the awful record to the Tigers, the Indians are still having a fine season and Aviles’ blast reminded the Indians that their season is far from finished. If they can’t catch the Tigers, they can still make a bid for a wild card spot.
Aviles’ home run also didn’t come off a struggling pitcher. He belted the homer against Tiger ace Joaquin Benoit, who lost his first game of the season and doesn’t give up many home runs. It was a dramatic home run by Aviles in many respects. He was batting at the low end of the Cleveland batting order, and Benoit had issued an intentional walk to get to Aviles with hopes of getting the Indians infielder to bounce into a double play.
Instead, Aviles cleared the fence and the bases, and the Indians aren’t quite dead yet when it comes to being a playoff contender. Indian pitchers also scattered 11 Tiger hits in allowing no runs.