Cleveland Indians‘ manager Terry Francona loves to play small ball. His utility infielder, Mike Aviles, leads all of the American League in sac bunts with 10. So it was no surprise when Zach Walters was ordered to lay down a bunt in the top of the 10th inning last night after Lonnie Chisenhall hit a pinch-hit double to start off the inning.
Walters was unable to get the bunt down, ultimately working the count full against the Chicago White Sox reliever Jake Petricka. It turned out to be a lucky break for an Indians team desperate for wins; Walters absolutely blasted a 3-2 offering from Petricka 402 feet into the Chicago night to give the Tribe an 8-6 victory.
Since coming over from the Washington Nationals in the Asdrubal Cabrera deal, Walters has been a spark plug for the Indians. He has only 10 hits since the trade, but six of them have been home runs. Of those six, three have tied the game for the Indians and three have given them the lead. One was a walk off on Aug. 13 against Arizona. The kid has been clutch.
Walters sounded a little like Popeye after the game, commenting, “It’s for the kids. I eat my spinach. I drink milk. That’s the only reason why.”
His power brought Cleveland to four games over .500 for the first time this season, and it seems the Indians may be putting it all together at the right time.
With 29 games left over the next 29 days, the Tribe will need to stay hot to catch Kansas City in the division and Seattle in the Wild Card. But perhaps the team has just a little bit of magic left over from last season’s playoff run, enough to stun the baseball world again.