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Carlos Santana’s patience and approach led to fireworks against the Red Sox

A Close Examination of the walk-off home run and reactions to it

Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Last night Carlos Santana lifted the Indians to victory with more late-innings magic. He barreled up a pitch from Marcus Walden and poked it over the 19-foot wall in left field for the win.

Before we sit down to closely examine this play, I suggest we all take a moment to review it. I choose to use Matt Underwood’s call of the play; to me, it is much better than Hamilton’s call in this instance.


Leading up to the bomb

As we know, Carlos Santana is a patient man. He draws around 100 walks every season. While his average may not compete for the batting title, he more than makes up for that with his on-base skills. Except that this season, he’s pretty much doing both. I think this is forcing pitchers to work around him in ways they aren’t used to doing, as he’s punishing balls over more of the plate by going to the other way. With power.

We can see a glimpse of this in Walden’s approach, starting with a bad miss inside.

He came back with a slider in the bottom third of the zone next, a pitch Santana looked more than happy to take. Walden went back inside with his cutter again, missing in almost the exact same spot as the first pitch. He then came back with another cutter down and in, which Santana fouled off. At this point I think he might have seen a regular fastball coming out of Walden’s hand. It’s not one that Walden throws as often as his cutter and slider, but its in his mix of pitches to keep guys honest.

It started to feel like Walden didn’t have a great feel for his cutter. Why not try to slot the slider down and in where he’d wanted to put the cutter? The spot for the next pitch was exactly that.

Glove down, lower part of the zone and in, ready to receive. Santana surely knows that he is going to swing; short of a glorious 12-6 curveball, there’s not way a baseball here ends up hitting a glove down there.

But, uh, remember how we talked about Santana staying with pitches away, barreling them up and driving them?

Probably not the greatest spot to miss with a breaking ball. Off of the bat, it wasn’t clear that the ball would carry out. Hamilton wasn’t even sure that it was a home run even when it did; he took a moment in the call to confirm before erupting into his signature belted walk-off celebration.

What I find hilarious is that the ball bounced, banked off of the sign in front of the entrance to the bleachers, and caromed back onto the field. No catch? No souvenir.

Now, let us review the various reactions to the game-winner.

Jason Kipnis

Either, “Can you believe it! Somebody high-five me!” Or, everyone’s reaction when they get cut off by some asshole on I-71.

(In reality, he was gesturing at Otero, utterly astonished that he predicted the dinger)

Lindor, Reyes, Plawecki, and Ramírez

Either going in for a bonus mob and possibly also making sure Reyes doesn’t accidentally squish Santana to death with a bear hug. Or, Santana has a very small puppy in his hands, and he has announced that he will raise it to be the new team dog. It is very cute.

Brad Hand and Jordan Luplow

Hand: “Hey, so. I haven’t been very, um. I just wanted to formally extend my gratitude for ... hey, come back.”

Luplow: just found out he’s been admitted to Hogwarts.

Random Guy

Finally, after 58 years, he’s achieved nirvana.

Terry Francona

I don’t actually have anything snarky to say about this, I just think its an adorable and heartwarming moment.

And finally,

Tyler Naquin

Just started the drop on Millennium Force; regrets everything.

In conclusion

What a wild couple of nights of baseball to cover. It’s been an absolute pleasure watching and writing about this team since the beginning of June. Throughout 2018, we often talked about how the team lacked signature moments, didn’t seem to have the energy of the prior two seasons, and maybe lacked the veteran leadership from those years, too.

Maybe all that the team needed the entire time was the return and resurgence of Carlos Santana.