CLEVELAND — Franmil Reyes has been Carlos Santana’s teammate for about two weeks, but the hulking Dominican slugger already knows the score when it comes to his veteran countryman.
After clubbing his first home run for the Cleveland Indians in Monday’s 6-5 win against Boston, Reyes — resplendent in skin-tight jean shorts and two heavy gold chains inside the Tribe’s postgame clubhouse — remarked upon Santana’s clutch homer that sent Indians fans home happy following the club’s sixth walk-off win of the season.
“You guys know Carlos is a damage guy, a really dangerous guy and you have to watch out every time he is up there,” Reyes said.
Finding anybody on the Indians roster to disagree with that sentiment should be next to impossible. Twelve of Santana’s 26 home runs have put the Indians in front, and five of those have come in the seventh inning or later. That’s the second most late go-ahead home runs in the majors behind San Diego’s Hunter Renfroe (6).
Santana’s heroics came on the heels of his grand slam in the 10th inning Sunday that lifted the Indians past Minnesota, tying the two clubs atop the American League Central Division standings until Monday’s blast gave Cleveland sole possession of first place for the first time in 116 days.
Both homers bailed out All-Star closer Brad Hand, who blew saves on each occasion. The timing of Santana’s latest rescue was not lost on Indians manager Terry Francona.
“He has come up so big for us and has been so consistent,” Francona said. “Right when you get punched in the stomach he takes a swing like that. I mean, that was a gorgeous swing. I know the last two days, but he’s been doing it all year.”
Santana became the first Indians hitter with game-winning home runs in the ninth inning or later in back-to-back games since Albert Belle on Aug. 30-31 in 1995. Jim Thome also accomplished the feat earlier that same season. He also tied Travis Hafner for eighth on the franchise home run list with his 200th in an Indians uniform.
Rookie Zach Plesac, who took a no decision Monday after exiting with a two-run lead after the fifth, said there is zero apprehension in the dugout when Santana is stepping to the plate in a clutch situation.
“He’s been red-hot, just like our whole lineup,” Plesac said. “There’s never a doubt when we’re down a run or two, even three. Our offense is so good, you feel confident that we’re gonna come back and score these runs.”