CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona admitted outfielder Marlon Byrd’s 162-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs Wednesday felt like a kick in the stomach.
Cleveland’s 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers in 11 innings a few hours later made Francona feel much better after Yan Gomes’ single scored Lonnie Chisenhall with the winning run.
“It’s a good end to a really long day,” Francona said. “You can’t help but have emotions when you’re dealing with some of the stuff we did. It’s a nice way to end the day.”
The Indians’ day started with the news Byrd was suspended without pay by Major League Baseball after testing positive for Ipamorelin, a growth hormone releasing peptide.
Alex Claudio (1-1) gave up Chisenhall’s double over third base to start the 11th. Gomes fouled off a bunt attempt on the first pitch, before bouncing his hit up the middle.
Chisenhall raced home and Gomes, who is batting .176, was mobbed by his teammates after Cleveland’s first walkoff win of the season.
Despite struggling with his batting average all season, Gomes is third on the team with 26 RBIs.
“Personally, it felt amazing,” he said. “Once you get any kind of chance to impact a ballgame, you try to take full advantage of that.”
Gomes kept his head up after his bunt attempt rolled harmlessly in foul territory up the third-base line.
“I tried bunting that first pitch, it didn’t quite work out, but after that you’ve just got to figure out a way to get him to third or you try to get him in,” he said.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister gave credit to the Indians after his team’s four-game winning ended.
“It was good hitting on their part,” he said, “Chisenhall staying back as long as he could on the double and then the chip shot through the middle infield for the winner.”
Tom Gorzelanny (1-0), called up from the minors before the game, recorded the final out in the 11th and the Indians avoided a three-game sweep against the AL West leaders.
Juan Uribe’s two-out single in the eighth broke a 3-all tie, but Texas rallied in the ninth off closer Cody Allen, who blew his first save in 12 chances this season. Pinch-hitter Jared Hoying’s fielder’s choice ground ball tied the game.
Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the first for Cleveland. Ryan Rua’s one-out homer in the seventh tied the game, two innings after Jason Kipnis’ RBI double broke a 2-all tie.
Starters Cole Hamels and Trevor Bauer each gave up three runs in seven innings.
Andrus was 2 for 5 and has hit safely in 30 of 31 career games at Progressive Field.
Rookie Tyler Naquin was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take Byrd’s outfield spot. Byrd’s suspension will also create playing time for Chisenhall and utilityman Michael Martinez. The Indians will also explore the trade market for an outfielder.
Byrd was batting .270 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 34 games.
Rangers: OF Shin-Soo Choo (strained left hamstring) will continue his rehab at extended spring training. He was previously out with a strained right calf and is on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season.
Indians: Team president Chris Antonetti said Byrd’s suspension won’t cause the team to rush the return of OF Michael Brantley (inflammation in right shoulder). Brantley is on the disabled list for the second time this season.
Rangers: RHP Yu Darvish will make his second start of the season Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Seattle. Darvish, who had been out because of elbow surgery, allowed one run in five innings Saturday against Pittsburgh.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (strained left hamstring) will be activated from the 15-day disabled list and start against Kansas City. Carrasco (2-0) was injured covering first base April 24.