Brantley carries Tribe along on power trip

Fifth Indians player to hit two go-ahead HRs in seventh inning or later

Brantley carries Tribe along on power trip

CLEVELAND -- There was no celebration on the part of Michael Brantley as the baseball soared to the right-field seats. There was only the smooth swing and a brief moment in which he admired his work. From there, Brantley put his head down and acted as if it were business as usual.

The crowd's response to the eighth-inning blast in Thursday's 7-5 win over the Tigers showed it was more than that. There was the collective gasp of awe, followed by loud cheers, celebrating a multi-homer showing by the steadiest performer within Cleveland's resurgent lineup.

"I'm glad he's on our side," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's really something to watch."

Francona on Indians' win

Brantley belted a pair of go-ahead homers in Cleveland's latest victory -- the club's 14th win in the past 20 games -- to help the Tribe move to within four games of Rangers for the American League's second Wild Card. The left fielder came through with a leadoff homer in the seventh to give the Indians a 4-3 lead and then blasted his two-run shot in the eighth to put Cleveland on top, 7-5.

Right now, Brantley is more concerned with the win column than with his personal accomplishments.

"The energy in this locker room," Brantley said, "especially with all the young guys and how much fun we've had as a team, I think it's very important. It's September. It's a grind to get here where we're at right now. So, we have to stay focused on one game at a time, not looking to who's in front of us or who's behind us."

With his effort, Brantley joined Yan Gomes (Sept. 1 this season), Ben Broussard (Sept. 13, 2005), Willie Kirkland (June 14, 1963) and Larry Doby (Aug. 30, 1958) as the only Indians players in team history to have multiple go-ahead or game-tying home runs in the seventh or later of the same game.

"He did it twice tonight," Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall said. "He gave us the lead and then he gave it to us again when we needed it. He's done that all year."

Brantley finished third in AL Most Valuable Player balloting last season after becoming the first hitter in franchise history to have 20 homers, 20 steals, 45 doubles and 200 hits in one season. This year, the outfielder has turned in a .319/.388/.499 slash line to go along with 14 stolen bases, 15 homers, 43 doubles, 65 runs, 81 RBIs and 156 hits through 126 games.

Brantley's 4.2 WAR (per Fangraphs.com) ranks 11th in the AL and his 144 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) is tied for sixth overall in the AL, trailing only Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson and Chris Davis.

"He's intelligent, not just hitting. He's a pro," Francona said. "He knows how to take care of himself. He prepares. Like I said, I'm glad he's on our side."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.