Published January 13, 2015
Jason Giambi turned a bitter Progressive Field crowd into a raucous mad house on Tuesday -- and maybe saved Cleveland's playoff fate in the process.
Giambi, who came in hitting .177 and had not gone deep since Aug. 14, crushed a game-winning two-run homer in the ninth inning to propel the surging Indians to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
A chorus of boos rained down on Indians closer Chris Perez after he yielded a tying solo homer to Dayan Viciedo and a go-ahead shot to Alejandro De Aza in the top of the ninth.
The sudden shift in momentum was an afterthought when Michael Brantley singled with one away to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Giambi, who dramatically smacked a no-doubter into the right-field seats off Addison Reed (5-4) for his 10th career walk-off homer.
"I reacted down and in to a slider and got the bat head to it," said the 42- year-old Giambi. "I'm speechless."
The Indians' fifth straight win -- and 13th in a row over the White Sox -- kept them in control of the second AL wild card spot. They hold a one-game lead over the Texas Rangers with five remaining -- one against Chicago and four against the Minnesota Twins.
Brantley went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and two RBI in the win, which clinched Chicago's record-tying 54th road loss of the year.
"We have to have thick skin and bounce back," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Bryan Shaw (6-3) stranded two runners in the ninth to pick up the win after Perez served up Viciedo's leadoff homer and De Aza's go-ahead solo blast.
White Sox starter Hector Santiago allowed three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings of a no-decision. His counterpart, Ubaldo Jimenez, was pulled in a tie game, 1-1, with two on and one out in the seventh frame.
De Aza greeted reliever Cody Allen with an RBI single, but Allen limited the damage to one run that the Indians got back on the first pitch of the bottom half, as Brantley turned on a Santiago fastball and crushed it deep into the seats in right for his 10th home run of the season.
Santiago's night was done after Mike Aviles followed with a single and was sacrificed over to second, and Jason Kipnis singled in Aviles for a 3-2 Indians lead.
Brantley knocked in Cleveland's first run in the second inning with a bloop single to center field. Asdrubal Cabrera read the ball well off the bat and scored without a play at the plate.
In the away fourth, Conor Gillaspie worked a leadoff walk and moved to third on Paul Konerko's hit-and-run single. After Adam Dunn struck out looking, Avisail Garcia drove a fly ball deep enough to left-center to plate Gillaspie.
The Indians have previously defeated one opponent 13 straight times, doing so against Detroit from May 1996-May 1997 ... Cleveland's 87 wins are a 19-win improvement from last year, its largest year-to-year increase since a 19-win jump from '91 (57-105) to '92 (76-86) ... Jimenez allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. He has allowed three earned run or less in 12 straight starts ... Chicago also lost 54 road games in 1969 ... The 13 consecutive losses to the Indians is Chicago's longest losing streak against one opponent.