Michael Brantley kept his cool and delivered for the Cleveland Indians.
Brantley singled in the winning run in the 11th inning, and Cleveland beat the Red Sox 5-4 on Saturday night to delay Boston’s bid for a club-record 106th victory and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
The sellout crowd of 35,095 was on its feet when Brantley came to bat, but the All-Star said he felt no pressure.
“I try to take every at-bat the same,” he said. “I go to the plate trying to make sure I get a good pitch to drive and make it possible to get that runner in from third.”
Brantley did exactly that and was mobbed by his teammates, who dumped the contents of the dugout water coolers over his head.
“It’s a little cold out tonight to be getting Gatorade baths,” he said.
Yan Gomes started the 11th with an infield hit off Drew Pomeranz (2-6), sliding to the bag ahead of first baseman Brock Holt’s tag after third baseman Rafael Devers’ offline throw.
Greg Allen singled pinch-runner Rajai Davis to second, the runners executed a double steal and Francisco Lindor was intentionally walked. Brantley hit a 1-1 pitch over left fielder Andrew Benintendi and in front of the warning track.
Tyler Olson (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings.
AL East champion Boston (105-50) has matched the team wins record set in 1912. One Boston win or Houston loss would give the Red Sox home field throughout the postseason and ensure a Division Series matchup against the wild card winner.
“We’ll turn the page tomorrow,” manager Alex Cora said. “Drew threw Brantley a breaking ball up in the zone.”
Benintendi tied the score 4-4 with a two-run single in the eighth off Brad Hand after Mitch Moreland’s leadoff single and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s double against Andrew Miller, who had pitched a scoreless seventh. Benintendi was thrown out trying for a double by Brantley in left.
Mike Clevinger struck out six in five innings and raised his total to 202, making the Indians the first team in major league history to have four pitchers reach 200 in the same season. Carlos Carrasco (217), Trevor Bauer (215) and Corey Kluber (205) are the others.
“It was kind of a cool thing to see,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “It kind of sneaked up on me tonight when it happened, but those guys ought to be proud of themselves.”
Devers and Blake Swihart hit solo home runs off Clevinger, who walked five and threw 103 pitches.
Francisco Lindor had run-scoring singles in the second and fourth. Josh Donaldson had two hits, including an RBI single in the third.
Rick Porcello allowed four runs — three earned — in five innings.
Mookie Betts was out of the lineup for the second straight night. Xander Bogaerts, Benintendi and Bradley returned after not starting Friday. Martinez, the major league leader in RBIs, was in right field after being a designated hitter Friday.
Betts, who leads the majors with a .339 batting average, hasn’t played right field since leaving Sunday’s game with soreness in his left side. He didn’t play Tuesday and was the designated hitter Wednesday and Thursday.
Devers homered for the second straight night in the third. Swihart led off the fourth with a line drive that cleared the wall in right field.
Cora was encouraged by Boston’s rally against Miller and Hand.
“Those were good at-bats,” he said. “Who knows, we might face them later on in October, so it’s good to face them — and also good to be successful against them.”
Take a break
Cody Allen, the Indians’ closer most of the season, hasn’t pitched since Cleveland clinched the division a week ago. Francona wanted he right-hander to rest to prepare for the postseason. Francona said Allen will throw a bullpen in the next couple of days and resume a normal workload during the final trip.
Francona and Cora talked briefly on the field during batting practice. Cora played four years in Boston while Francona managed the Red Sox, and the two have become close friends.
Still a go
Bauer is scheduled to start Tuesday in Kansas City and is expected to throw between 60-65 pitches. He pitched 1 1/3 innings and threw 34 pitches Friday in his first appearance since Aug. 17, when his right leg was broken by a line drive.
Indians RHP Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.27 ERA) is to take the mound in Cleveland’s regular-season home finale. RHP Hector Velazquez (7-2, 3.18 ERA) will start for the Red Sox.
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