That faith is finally being rewarded.
Santana's leadoff homer in the fourth inning lifted Cleveland to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night and continued a hot June for a hitter who struggled for the first two months.
''It was inevitable,'' Francona said. ''He's too good a hitter.''
The win, which was also sparked by Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run homer in the first, moved the Indians (36-35) over the .500 mark. Although Santana is hitting .191 for the season, he's batting .333 (13 for 39) with three homers and nine RBIs in June.
''The good thing is, it's not just singles, he's going to hit home runs and get extra base hits,'' Francona said. ''We survived to a point with him really being cold and as he's getting hot it's going to help our offense.''
Both home runs came off Jered Weaver (7-6), who lost for the first time in 10 career starts at Progressive Field. Weaver was 6-0 and allowed 11 earned runs in 60 1-3 innings in nine starts at the Indians ballpark going into the game.
The Indians managed to win despite having a thin bullpen, forcing starter Trevor Bauer (2-3) to throw 119 pitches - a season high for Cleveland - in 6 2-3 innings. With closer Cody Allen and setup man Bryan Shaw both unavailable after pitching the last three days, Carlos Carrasco worked 2 1-3 innings for his first career save.
''Carlos pitched really well, that was a huge lift for us,'' Francona said. ''The way he was pitching I didn't want to take him out, and there was no reason to take him out.''
Indians left fielder Michael Brantley left the game in the fifth for precautionary reasons after receiving a blow to the head and neck area while trying to break up a double play in the third.
''He banged the side of his head on that slide,'' Francona said. ''He passed all the concussion tests, which is good. His neck is a little stiff. We'll see how he is when he comes in (Tuesday).''
The Angels have lost four of five since winning five straight.
Weaver allowed four runs in six innings. The right-hander's 1.64 ERA going into Monday was the lowest in ballpark history with a minimum of 50 innings pitched, according to STATS LLC. Weaver had allowed three earned runs in 43 innings over his last six starts in Cleveland before losing Monday.
''I know that I've thrown well in this park but I didn't know that it was that good,'' he said. ''Nothing else to say, just can't stay away from the homer.''
Bauer, who pitched around trouble all game, allowed three runs for his first win since May 20 and wasn't bothered by his high pitch count.
''I can go 130, 150 or 200,'' he said. ''I did that in college. I'm used to throwing.''
Carrasco, who was moved to the bullpen last month after pitching poorly as a starter, struck out Howie Kendrick to end the seventh and worked around a walk and a single in the eighth. He retired Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to start the ninth and struck out Josh Hamilton on three pitches to end the game.
''I want to help the team whether it's starting or in the bullpen,'' Carrasco said. ''Right now the bullpen is where I am.''
Cabrera's homer gave Cleveland the lead, but Chris Iannetta tied the game with a two-run double in the second.
After the Indians went ahead again on Brantley's RBI single in the third, John McDonald's sacrifice fly in the fourth tied the game.
Santana homered deep into the seats in right field on a 2-2 pitch. The switch-hitter is 10 for 19 with two homers lifetime against Weaver.
Cabrera's drive cleared the 19-foot wall in left field. Angels manager Mike Scioscia came on the field to speak with the umpires, but the call was upheld after a crew chief review.
McDonald started at shortstop in place of Erick Aybar, who has a sore left hip.
Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving took batting practice with the Indians and threw out the first pitch.
NOTES: Aybar had a pinch-hit single in the eighth. ... Francona said RHP Zach McAllister (sore back) will start Thursday. McAllister has been on the 15-day DL since May 22. ... LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained right hamstring) will pitch a simulated game Tuesday. ... The Indians signed LHP Justus Sheffield, the 31st overall pick in the draft. Sheffield, 18, turned down an offer from Vanderbilt to sign with Cleveland. ... Angels RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-1) faces RHP Josh Tomlin (4-3) on Tuesday.
- Sports & Recreation
- Carlos Santana
- Terry Francona
- Cleveland Indians
- Asdrubal Cabrera
- Jered Weaver
- Los Angeles Angels
- the Indians