CLEVELAND -- Indians utility man Mike Aviles has made the most of some long nights this week.
On Friday, Aviles drilled a pitch from Orioles lefty Brian Matusz deep to left field for a game-winning home run, sending Cleveland's fans home happy with a 2-1, 11-inning victory at Progressive Field. Aviles also led the charge late Tuesday night, when he and a pair of teammates did tarp slides in a rainstorm to entertain the few locals left in the stands after a long delay.
Both the walk-off home run and the tarp slides were career firsts for Aviles.
"You've got to do something to liven it up," Aviles said with a laugh. "You've got to get things going in the right way."
Heading into the 11th inning of the Tribe's win over Baltimore, Aviles had an 0-for-4 showing in a forgettable day at the plate. Entering the evening, the part-time infielder and outfielder had hit just .167 (6-for-36) in August and only .148 (8-for-54) over his previous 18 games for the Indians.
Needless to say, a home run was the last thing on Aviles' mind when he settled into the batter's box to face Matusz in the decisive inning.
"If you haven't been seeing the way I've been swinging the bat lately," Aviles quipped, "I was honestly just trying to get on base. ... It was a pitch that stayed up just a little big higher than normal. I don't think he meant to leave it as high. I think he probably wanted to get it a little lower, so I could swing over it. But I was able to dig it out a little bit and keep it fair."
The shot, which was the fourth of the season for Aviles, represented the third walk-off contribution of his career. He delivered a game-winning single in the ninth to send the Indians to a 4-3 win over the Twins on May 7. During his days with the Royals, Aviles came through with a walk-off sacrifice fly to beat the A's on May 7, 2011.
Finally checking a walk-off homer off his bucket list was special for Aviles.
"It feels good," Aviles said. "I can honestly say, when I'm an old person and I've got grandkids, I can tell them, 'Yeah, that really did happen.' I'm excited for that one. They can't take that away from me."
Throughout this season -- one that has included nine walk-off wins, including seven via home run, or Cleveland -- Aviles has been one of the players at the plate splashing water on that night's hero. With the tables turned on Friday, he tossed his helmet aside after rounding third base and motioned for his teammates to bring it on.
Shortly before he reached home plate, Aviles stopped, spread his arms and savored the shower.
"I was like, 'Come on, give me the water. I'm going to enjoy this one,'" Aviles said with a grin. "Rather than act like I didn't know it was coming, I wanted to prepare for it. But I still couldn't see with all the water in my face."
At least there was not a tarp on the field this time.