CLEVELAND, Ohio — On Tuesday night, Carlos Santana turned back the clock and did his best imitation of Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between Boston and Cincinnati.
In that game Fisk hit a game-winning home run down the left field line at Fenway Park in the 12th inning. As he came out of the batter’s box, Fisk urged the ball to stay fair with all the body language he could muster.
Santana did the same in the 10th inning as he hit a three-run homer high over the left field foul pole at PNC Park to give the Indians a 6-3 win over the Pirates. Santana bent and contorted his body to try and keep the ball fair. At one point he started back to the plate, thinking it was foul, but when the umpire signaled home run he trotted around the bases as Cesar Hernandez and Francisco Lindor scored in front of him to break a 3-3 tie.
Hernandez, under MLB’s automatic runner rule, started the 10th inning at second base. Jose Ramirez struck out, but left-hander Sam Howard hit Lindor on the foot to bring Santana to the plate. He hit 1-0 slider over the foul pole to win it. The Pirates challenged the call, but replay supported the call on the field.
Santana didn’t recall Carlton Fisk’s famous home run. “That was a long time ago,” said Santana with a smile.
But he said he was trying to keep the ball fair.
“Of course, I was,” said Santana. “I was waiting for the umpire to call it fair. I was very happy for that.”
Acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said the call could have gone either way.
“We knew the ball was hooking,” said Alomar. “The ball was hit so far over the pole you couldn’t tell. It could have gone either way. The way I saw it was hutting the foul pole on the fair, but it ended up way on the foul side. It seemed to me it was fair.”
Santana drove in five of the Indians six runs to match a career high. When it comes to hitting the ball out of the park late in games, few are better. Santana since 2010 leads the big leagues with 13 homers in the ninth inning or later (Elias).
The Indians have won four straight and nine of their last 12 games. The Pirates have lost 10 of their last 12.
The Indians bullpen shined after a short start by Carlos Carrasco. Nick Wittgren (1-0) worked in and out of trouble in the ninth. Speedster Jarrod Dyson greeted Wittgren with a single off Santana’s glove at first base. Catcher Jacob Stallings sent a bunt back to the mound. Wittgren tried to get Dyson at second, but his throw was late as was Lindor’s relay to first.
The Indians caught a break, however, when catcher Roberto Perez picked off Dyson at second for the first out thanks as Dyson hit Lindor’s foot as he tried to dive back into the bag. The Pirates challenged, but the call on the field stood.
The Pirates rebounded nicely. After Adam Frazier flied out to right, Kevin Newman singled to send Stallings to second. Cole Tucker pinch ran as Josh Bell came to the plate. Wittgren sent it to extra inning by striking out Bell.
“I know better than that,” said Wittgren. “Carlos and Berto (Perez) were yelling one, one, one. I should have gone to first.”
Brad Hand pitched the 10th for his sixth save in as many chances to complete 5 2/3 scoreless innings by the bullpen.
“The bullpen was fantastic,” said Alomar. “They came in tonight and held the fort. I’m very proud of them.”
The Indians gave Carrasco a 3-1 lead in the third, but the Pirates pulled even in the fifth at 3-3. Carrasco struck out Stallings to start the inning, but Frazier singled and Newman walked. The runners advanced on Carrasco’s wild pitch and scored on Bell’s double.
Lefty Oliver Perez relieved and struck out Colin Moran and Bryan Reynolds to stand Bell and keep the score tied. Perez started a nice run by the bullpen as Cam Hill, Phil Maton, James Karinchak and Wittgren held the Pirates scoreless through the ninth.
Karinchak relieved Maton with two out in the seventh and retired four straight. He struck out the first two batters he faced in the eighth to give him 24 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.
Carrasco allowed three runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three. It was Carrasco’s second straight start in which he’s pitched just 4 1/3 innings.
“I was on and off,” said Carrasco. “I have eight walks in my last two starts. I’m not happy with that. I’m better than that.”
The Indians, trailing 1-0, took a 3-1 lead in the third off J.T. Bubaker. Their first four batters reached base as Hernandez doubled and Ramirez and Lindor walked to load the bases. Santana made it 2-1 with a single to center as Lindor stopped at third. Sananta entered the game hitting .143 (3-for-21) with runners in scoring position.
Franmil Reyes followed with a long sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-1. The RBI gave Reyes 12 in his last 10 games. He entered the game hitting .515 with two doubles, four homers and 11 RBI in previous nine games.
The Pirates scored first, taking a 1-0 lead against Carrasco. Kevin Newman doubled with one out and scored on Colin Moran two-out single to right.
Tuesday’s win was the Indians first in Pittsburgh since July 3, 2015.
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