ARLINGTON -- Carlos Santana hit a leadoff home run in the first and an RBI single in the second, helping the Indians jump out to a three-run lead, and they held on for a 4-3 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Park on Tuesday night.
"[Santana's] a guy who's hit in the middle," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And he's a switch-hitter. It's a luxury. ... It looks like he's swinging the bat really well. It's nice to see some guys coming out of the chute swinging the bat like that."
"I can't sit here and say it was a good feeling," said Francona, referring to the bottom of the ninth. "But [Allen] has that ability. Fortunately, a lot of times, you see him at his best when he needs to be, which is a really good quality. There's a lot of trust in Cody, and he deserves it."
Santana's sixth career leadoff home run -- all since the start of 2016 -- put the Indians up in the first against Rangers starter Martin Perez. Austin Jackson and Santana made it 3-0 in the second with a pair of two-out RBI singles.
Perez settled down after that, allowing just one hit over his next four innings before leaving after six. Michael Brantley drove in a run in the seventh for the Indians with another two-out run-scoring single.
"They made plays, and I started to pitch my game," Perez said. "I think in the second inning, I was thinking too much. I just said, 'I'm going to work quick and not think too much, and let's pitch, let's throw the ball where [catcher Robinson] Chirinos is calling for it. After that we had good results."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dazzling double play: Shortstop Elvis Andrus helped Perez escape trouble in the third with a tremendous defensive play after Brantley led off with a single and Edwin Encarnacion walked. Andrus made a diving stop to his left on Jose Ramirez's grounder up the middle and flipped the ball with his glove to Odor at second base. Odor caught the ball barehanded and fired to first to complete the double play.
"That's a rally right there," Francona said. "And all of a sudden, the inning's over, because they get a double play. We had a chance for maybe a big inning there."
Santana sets the tone: Francona loves having Santana atop the order due to his blend of patience and power. It was the latter that showed up in the first inning. Santana lifted a 2-1 pitch from Perez down the right-field line, where it carried over the wall for a leadoff homer. Per Statcast™, the fly ball had an exit velocity of 98.3 mph and a launch angle of 41 degrees. That combination comes with a hit probability of only nine percent. Whether it was lucky or not, the shot gave the Indians a quick 1-0 lead.
"I was in between. Yes or no," said Santana when asked if he thought he had a home run. "But I was running hard. You never know, but it was a home run, and I was very happy for that." More >
Guyer cuts down Mazara: Indians right fielder Brandon Guyer made a big throw in the third inning to help stop a potential Rangers rally. With the Indians leading, 3-2, Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out, and Mazara lined a base hit to right. Choo went to third, but Mazara was cut down by Guyer going for a double. The Rangers didn't score, as Carrasco, after he hit Napoli with a pitch, struck out Odor.
"Brandon got to the ball quick," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The ball hopped up to him, and he made a strong throw. We're going to be aggressive. We were over-aggressive there, but we want our guys aggressive."
"He told me that if I pitch like that, I'll be pitching in the Majors a long time." -- Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc, on what Banister said after Leclerc pitched two scoreless innings
"I thought he was good. After he gave up that home run that might still be going, he settled down, and he threw strikes. He threw some real good offspeed. He made some big pitches." -- Francona, on Carrasco
Banister won a challenge in the first inning after Francisco Lindor was ruled safe on a stolen-base attempt at second base. The call was overturned after a review.
In the ninth inning, Yan Gomes pulled a pitch from Leclerc to deep left, where the ball tailed just to the left of the foul pole. The umpires reviewed the fly ball, which was confirmed not to be a home run.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar led the Indians in innings (26) and strikeouts (37) this spring and will be looking to carry that success into to the regular season. He is scheduled to make his debut on Wednesday, when the Rangers host the Tribe at 8:05 p.m. ET.
Rangers:Jonathan Lucroy will be back in the lineup to catch Cole Hamels when the Rangers play the Indians at 7:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Globe Life Park. Outfielder Delino DeShields is also expected to start for the Rangers.