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Rookie González sends Guardians to ALDS with walk-off homer after 15 inning marathon

📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/ Latino Sports

NEW YORK — There is nothing more rhythmic in the month of October than Halloween decor, pumpkin spice lattes, and a flare for the dramatics in the Postseason as a team defies the odds and tugs on your heartstrings. 

We are reminded why postseason baseball will always be a part of the October culture for all baseball fans as a grueling marathon ended with an eruption of emotions when the Guardians advanced the American League Division Series with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 15th inning.

It all ended with a rookie, who played in his second-career postseason game and batted leadoff in the 15th inning to send a 1-0 pitch, an 84-mph cutter into launch mode, that sailed over the left-center field wall to send the Cleveland Guardians to the ALDS.  

Óscar González — who made his Major League debut on May 26, 2022 — is from Sabana Grande de Palenque, Dominican Republic, but was reborn in the city of Cleveland as a hero after his Game 2 walk-off home run.

“These are the things that I’ve been dreaming since I was a kid. You know, playing in the major leagues and winning championships. So this is what I always wanted to do,” González expressed as champagne dripped off his body. 

“There’s no way to describe it,” González continued. “It was such an exciting moment that it’s hard for me to put into words.”   

The rookie ended his night collecting two of the Guardians’ five hits on the day. After playing in his second postseason game, the 24-year-old bumped his slash line to .333/.400/.667.

As the slated night games approached and the Fall sun began to edge closer to the horizon, a game that started at noon was still in the works. A 15-inning defensive and pitching masterpiece from the Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays kept everyone’s eyes on a screen that viewed the longest scoreless postseasonn game in Major League Baseball history. 

The game — which was three minutes shy of reaching the five-hour mark — began with Guardians pitcher and New York City native Triston McKenzie on the mound. The 25-year-old gave the Guardians the outing they needed to flirt with an opportunity to sweep the Rays in the Wild Card series. McKenzie seized the big moment going six innings of two-hit ball, fanning eight batters, and walking two in his second-career postseason outing on the hill.   

It was a constant back-and-forth, a game clinging onto the pitching performances of the bullpen that was scarce by the time the 15th inning rolled around. Both teams utilized seven relievers in the pitching matinee. In the end, Rays righty and two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber threw his second pitch of the game down the middle of the plate, and after smashing it into the October skies, Gonzalez stood and watched as history wrote itself into the record books. 

Fellow Dominican Republic natives Emmanuel Clase and Enyel De Los Santos also participated in the marathon; both provided an inning of production when Guardians manager Terry Francona called the bullpen. 

Clase would hunker down the ninth inning of the scoreless game, striking out a postseason threat and 2020 Latino MVP Rookie Award recipient Randy Arozarena in a seven-pitch at-bat that was dominated by Clase’s firing cutter. 

De Los Santos was smack in the middle of a superb defensive highlight when Manuel Margot chopped a slider down the third baseline. A stretching José Ramírez made the long throw to Josh Naylor, who legged out to make the bang-bang grab at first to save the Guardians from giving the Rays a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 12th inning. 

“He kind of willed himself there to make that play. And Naylor, I don’t know if it’s a game-saving, it might be a year-saving play,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said as the relief of getting through Game 2 and not having to take on an elimination game finally settled. 

The American League Division Series begins Tuesday, October 11, 2022. According to Francona, the Guardians will travel to New York on Sunday to take on the American League East division champion New York Yankees in the best-of-five division series.

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