After a six-game losing streak that felt like it last twice that long and featured the team scoring only 13 runs all week, I'd sort of forgotten that sometimes the runs come in bunches, and sometimes the Indians win big. That was the case Friday night, when the Indians scored more runs in the 1st inning than they did in any game during their recently completed jaunt through California.
Carlos Santana (now the hottest hitter on the team) started the scoring with a double to left field. Ryan Raburn and Yan Gomes each drove in a pair of runs later in the inning, making it a 5-0 game. Danny Salazar (with help from Gomes and Elliot Johnson) gave 3 of those runs right back in the top of the 2nd, but Santana's third home run of the week re-extended the lead to 6-3 in the bottom half of the inning, and Michael Bourn drove in another run in the 3rd. Michael Brantley added his fifth home run of the season in the 5th, and the Tribe tagged on another four runs in the 6th, tying their season high with a dozen runs in total.
Salazar did not look great, as he continued to go too deep into too many counts, and reached 100 pitches while facing the lead off man in the 6th inning. He left after that man reached base, leaving him with just 5 innings pitched. The 6 strikeouts were nice, and not all of the 7 hits were especially solid, but the three men he walked are too many, and he also gave up another home run, continuing his most troubling trend of the season (that home run was hit by Jose Abreu, who leads MLB with 11 of them already, including 3 against the Indians, including 2 off Salazar).
The defense did him no favors; Johnson dropped not one but two throws at second base on potential double-play balls, the first of which was partially responsible for all three Chicago runs in the 2nd (Johnson also went 0 for 4, making him the only starter without a hit for the Indians... look for him to ride the bench on Saturday, while Jose Ramirez gets his first start of the season). Yan Gomes also allowed his league-leading fourth passed ball of the season, equaling his 2013 total in more than 500 fewer innings.
Back to the offense though, because a 12-5 win brings far more to celebrate than fret about: Brantley had 3 hits, and is already up to 23 RBI (meaningless but depressing fact of the night: The first man to reach that total for the Indians last season was Mark Reynolds, who got there on May 3). Santana had the double and the home run, giving him 4 extra-base hits in his last 4 games, matching his total from the season's first 25 games. Gomes and Mike Aviles each had 2 hits as well, while Swisher had his eighth double of the year and also walked twice.
There was so, so, so much to like from the offense. The Indians improve to 12-17, and if they can maintain some of tonight's success, they could get right back into the thick of things over the next week, during a seven-game homestand against AL Central foes. Let's hope that's what happens.
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