While we can forever argue that the day of the Cleveland Indians Home Opener every year should be a holiday, allowing everyone to be off work, one thing is for certain: the Indians made the most of their opportunity to impress The Land in their first game back at Progressive Field since last November with a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox in extra innings. Although it was a low-scoring pitchers’ duel, the team proved yet again that they can win in many different ways. Whether it’s out-slugging their opponent, the starting pitcher shutting down the opposing players, or the bullpen’s pure dominance, the Indians did their best to showcase why they can legitimately make it back to the World Series in late October (and early November) Tuesday afternoon, in front of their home fans for the first time in 2017.
With outfielder Michael Brantley seeming to be 100 percent for the first time since 2015, the day couldn’t have been scripted any better for the former All-Star. While the Indians won, Dr. Smooth clinched the win with a walk-off double, scoring Francisco Lindor. A celebration that was well-deserved for the amount of hours that Brantley has put in to work his way back then ensued.
With the fans in Progressive Field celebrating, Brantley was then hit with his first Gatorade shower of 2017.
No. 23’s walk-off in the 10th inning may have capped off what was an incredible day for the Indians, but there were also a few plays prior to the game-winning double that helped secure the win as well. Star shortstop Francisco Lindor began the scoring with a solo home run in the bottom of the first, one that put Indians’ fans throughout Progressive Field in a frenzy.
In his first home opener in the big league’s, third baseman Yandy Diaz made the most of the opportunity. While he isn’t known for his defense and known for what he can do in the batter’s box, the rookie had an incredible, game-saving diving catch to keep the game tied at one in the eighth inning.
Keep in mind, the Indians did this while arguably one of their best hitters, Edwin Encarnacion, grounded into two double plays with bases loaded. Imagine if he would have just maken good contact in even one of those at-bats. Outside of a solo home run by Chicago’s Todd Frazier in the fifth inning, starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco and relievers Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Boone Logan, and Bryan Shaw were outstanding.
Tuesday’s game may have just been Game 7 of 162 regular season games and the first of 81 regular season home games, but for the Indians to start their long season at Progressive Field the way they did, it could only mean good things moving forward. Also, for Brantley, you couldn’t have asked for a better first game back in Cleveland. Dr. Smooth (and the rest of the Indians) deserved everything they got on Tuesday. Now to all Indians fans, although it’s a long season, it has a chance to be one of the best in franchise history. Buckle up, and prepare yourselves for the unbelievable ride!