For eight innings, nothing. The Indians did everything in the ninth.
Yan Gomes hit a three-run homer with two outs off All-Star closer Greg Holland as Cleveland, down to its last strike several times, rallied for four runs in its last at-bat for Corey Kluber and stunned the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Tuesday night.
After Austin Jackson tied it with a two-out bloop RBI single, Gomes connected on the first pitch from Holland (2-3), driving it into the seats in center field to touch off a wild celebration in Progressive Field.
Gomes flung his helmet and skipped around the bases as the Indians players danced out of their dugout at the improbable walk-off win.
“That was unbelievable, man,” Gomes said. “It was some battle at-bats, too. Austin found the hole out there, but he battled his tail off. That’s the best closer in the NL, and maybe in the major leagues right now. We’ve seen him plenty of times. We all know a little about him. We were just trying to put some good at-bats together and trying to get a win for Corey.”
Kluber (10-3) deserved it. The right-hander gave up three hits, struck out 11, threw his second straight complete game and continued his dominance since returning from the disabled list on June 1.
But if not for Jackson’s heroics against Holland, the majors’ saves leader, and Gomes’ eighth homer, Kluber would have taken a tough loss. Until the Indians’ late rally, Charlie Blackmon’s homer on Kluber’s second pitch looked like it might stand up as the game’s only run.
“First couple hitters of the game, home run, single and then nothing,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Kluber’s latest gem. “It’s fun to watch. It’d be nice to score some runs so he could really enjoy it. He spent two and a half hours being grumpy, then you win.”
Holland walked Edwin Encarnacion with one out and struck out Carlos Santana before getting ahead of Jackson. In a two-strike hole, Jackson barely nicked a pitch before fouling off two more and dropping his game-tying RBI single into right-center, the flair just eluding a diving Blackmon.
“They all suck anytime you lose especially when it’s your fault,” Holland said. “Walking the tying run and the winning run was the key to the inning. Edwin had a good at-bat. The walk to Zimmer was more on me. I don’t think he ever swung. Jackson had a good at-bat. I thought it was a fly ball off the bat. He just hit it in a perfect spot.”
The Rockies honored late manager Don Baylor by hanging his No. 25 jersey in their dugout. Baylor, who died Monday at 68 after a long battle with cancer, led Colorado to the playoffs in 1995 — the expansion franchise’s third season.
Indians All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley sprained his right ankle in the fifth, going down after taking a few steps toward a fly ball. Brantley, who played in just 11 games last season following right shoulder surgery, started running after a fly to center when he pulled up. The 30-year-old dropped to the grass and had a concerned look on his face while being checked by a trainer.
Brantley, who was on the disabled list in June with a sprain to the same ankle, limped slowly off the field to an ovation and was helped down the dugout steps.
Francona said Brantley will undergo an MRI and the team should know more on Wednesday.