Gutierrez ensures Tribe's big night
First-inning grand slam sets tone in win over White Sox
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' offense had shown mild signs of life Monday, when the bats cranked out 12 hits.Of course, when you notch 12 hits and simultaneously strand 13 runners, it's hardly considered progress. Progress, then, was what the offense contributed to Tuesday night's 8-2 victory over the White Sox in front of 25,426 at Progressive Field. The bats finally smacked the ball in key situations -- none bigger than Franklin Gutierrez's first-inning grand slam -- and the White Sox defense dropped it. Toss in another splendid start from Aaron Laffey, and the Indians found a winning formula for just the second time in 10 games. "As everybody knows, we've been struggling," Gutierrez said. "But we're working really hard every day. We're coming here early and working offensively." They came to work early in this game. Ben Francisco's first-inning sacrifice fly off White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle gave the Indians a 1-0 lead, but it also gave them two outs with none on. They went on to load the bases, though, when Buehrle walked Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko and served up a single to Jhonny Peralta. Enter Gutierrez, whose starts in right field have come solely against left-handers like Buehrle of late. He proved why he's still worthy of the southpaw starts when he lifted Buehrle's 2-1 changeup into the left-field bleachers for his first career grand slam. "Gut did a heck of a job," manager Eric Wedge said. "You never expect something like that, but he put a good swing on it." Cranking out such a shot was no easy feat on a cold night in which the wind was blowing in. And Gutierrez hadn't homered since April 25. But he had a history of success against Buehrle, having taken him deep on Opening Day. "I know this guy, so I know what he can throw," said Gutierrez, who would later leave the game with a bruised left quadriceps. "I guess I was relaxed. I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit, and I just found it." With a 5-0 lead in tow, Laffey could relax. But that's not how he viewed things. "[With a big lead] you don't want to be lackadaisical," Laffey said. "If you give up a couple runs, you let the other team back in the game. You have to bear down."
|"I know [Mark Buehrle], so I know what he can throw. I guess I was relaxed. I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit, and I just found it."|
|-- Franklin Gutierrez|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.