Raburn lifts Indians over Rangers in 11-8 walk-off
CLEVELAND -- After twice contemplating a sacrifice bunt, Ryan Raburn hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the 11th inning off Jason Frasor, giving the Cleveland Indians a 11-8 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
After shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Carlos Santana opened the inning with back-to-back singles off Frasor (0-2, 3.26), Raburn squared to bunt on two pitches before ripping a 2-1 pitch onto the home-run porch in left. The walk-off blast saved the Tribe, who blew a 7-1 lead and nearly lost after a poor bullpen performance.
"The bunt was on for the first two pitches, then they took it off," Raburn said. "I was happy they did. The way I feel at the plate, I like my chances better swinging away. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. He left a slider up and I was fortunate enough to hit it over the wall."
It was the seventh walk-off win this season for the Indians, who began a stretch of 14-of-17 games at home. The Detroit Tigers also won, maintaining a three-game lead over the Indians in the American League Central.
Bryan Shaw (1-2, 4.03), Cleveland's fifth reliever of the game, stranded the go-ahead run at third in the 11th, allowing for the walk-off celebration at home plate.
"When Raburn was coming around, I just grabbed the two coldest bottles of water I could find and was just launching at him," said first baseman Nick Swisher, who homered in the first inning. "No one was excited about going to extra innings, but we're always going to keep fighting hard and finding ways to win."
After Swisher's solo homer in the first, the Tribe picked up two more in the third on a wild pitch by Rangers starter Martin Perez and a ground out by center fielder Michael Bourn.
The Indians loaded the bases against Perez in the fourth with no outs and Drew Stubbs singled to right, scoring two more runs to make it 5-1. Bourn followed with another two-RBI single, driving Perez from the game. He allowed seven runs (six earned) in three-plus innings of work.
Despite being down 7-1 in the fourth, the Rangers kept eating away at the lead and eventually tied the Indians in the eighth.
With runners on second and third and two outs following a sacrifice bunt by Leonys Martin, Ian Kinsler singled to right off reliever Joe Smith, scoring two runs and tying the game 8-8. Smith has now allowed at least one earned run in three of his last five appearances. Collectively, the Indians have blown 18 saves this season.
Texas' comeback cost Indians starter Corey Kluber what should have been his eighth win of the season. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, exiting with an 8-4 lead.
Texas pulled within two in the seventh against Cody Allen when Kinsler hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly followed by a RBI-single by Engel Beltre. After surrendering a walk and another hit, Allen was pulled in favor of Rich Hill, who induced the final out of the inning.
Chris Perez was a calming influence after a shaky seventh and eighth, retiring the side in the ninth on just five pitches. He stayed on to pitch the tenth, marking the ninth time he has worked two innings in his career and the first time since May 29, 2010. Since coming off the disabled list, Perez has allowed just one run in 13 innings (0.69 ERA).
The Indians and Rangers combined for five errors and four wild pitches. The Tribe took infield practice before the game, but still has some kinks to work out on defense.
Despite inconsistent play on the last road trip, Cleveland remains within striking distance of the Tigers. The Indians are hoping to avoid a repeat of their collapse last season, when they went a franchise-worst 5-24 in August.
"Our goal was to win the game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We took a circuitous route to get there, but we won."
The Indians will play the second game of a three-game set against the Rangers Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The matchup will feature both teams' ace pitchers, as Justin Masterson (11-7, 3.60) will face off against Yu Darvish (9-4, 2.86).
Notes: Michael Bourn drove in three runs for Cleveland for the second game in a row, the first time he has done so in his career. Ryan Raburn has 10 RBIs in his past 11 games. The Indians are 6-1 in extra-inning games.
Nathan Kemp graduated from The University of Akron in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. He plans to pursue a graduate degree through NEOMFA in the fall. Follow him on Twitter @NathanCKemp.