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Edwin Encarnacion’s hot streak continues as Indians clobber Twins, 8-1

Welcome to Dong City. Population: Indians.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

If this recap is any good, it’s only because Jay Bruce is there to protect it.

See, that would kind of be selling my awesome writing and awesome, varied word choices short just because I write an awesome recap a week after the Cleveland Indians acquired awesome outfielder Jay Bruce from the New York Mets for Flynn Rider (or someone, I can’t remember). That’s kind of what some of you people are doing with Edwin Encarnacion’s recent bout of greatness. He’s not hitting well because Jay Bruce is “protecting him”. He’s hitting well because he’s a Very Large Man who hits baseballs Very Hard.

Give the man his credit.

After homering twice in last night’s win over the Boston Red Sox, Encarnacion followed it up with another dinger tonight, making it five in his last five games. This wasn’t the first time he’s hit a lot of home runs in succession, in fact it’s kind of his thing. He’s a streaky hitter that starts slow and turns it on late. But even earlier this season he homered five times in seven games with Carlos Santana “protecting” him.

But this game wasn’t all about Edwin’s dinger. It was a dinger party and everyone was invited. Edwin was almost invited twice, but Byron Buxton saw right through his disguise and stopped him at the door and this analogy has gone on way too long.

Santana opened the scoring for the good guys in the fourth inning with a lead-off homer, then Edwin and Jason Kipnis followed an inning later, causing Bartolo Colon to peter off and be replaced after five innings. It’s baffling just how effective Bartolo was for so much of this game, when all he was doing was pumping fastballs in the zone. But it’s what he does, and he’s done since before Francisco Lindor was born, so who am I to judge?

A two-run lead isn’t safe against any team, let alone one with Max Kepler, young Cleveland Indians killer/James Bond villain, on the team. So it wasn’t until Austin Jackson cranked a three-run shot in the seventh that I felt safe to start writing this recap watch the rest of the game in peace like a good recapper.

Edwin may be the best Tribe hitter over the past week, and his absolutely crushed home run makes him a good headliner, but it was the combination of Austin Jackson, Carlos Santana, and Jay Bruce that carried the Indians tonight. Two have been huge additions this season, while Santana put on a big audition for one of the teams who may be eyeing him after this offseason.

Santana hit two home runs on the night. The first left his bat at 109.9 miles per hour — the hardest-hit ball of the night according to Statcast. His second only got out at a little over 101 miles per hour; he was clearly gassed.

Also of note, it was the ninth multi-homer game of Santana’s career. Per Let’s Go Tribe’s own Jason Lukehart, that puts him in some pretty good company.

Apologies to Danny Salazar for not mentioning you until this point, but the dingers. You must understand.

The Dzar (sorry, not calling him Sally) had arguably his best game of the season, and maybe one of the best of his career. He lasted seven innings — which earlier this season seemed like a pipe dream — and struck out 10 while walking absolutely no one.

This was the 12th start this season in which Danny threw five or more innings, and just the second time he’s finished without walking anyone. He fell two strikeouts short of his season high set a mere two starts ago against the New York Yankees.

Purely anecdotally, the movement no each of Salazar’s pitches looked outstanding. His fastball had life on it, and his change-up was as deadly as ever. One thing he did particularly well was keep the ball down in the zone, especially in this early at-bat against Joe Mauer.

Mauer wasn’t a big fan of that being called a strike, but it was clear on the replay, and it’s even clearer with concrete Statcast data. You got Sally’d Dzar’d, Joe.

As of this writing, the Indians have knocked the Minnesota Twins back to third in the AL Central, but the Kansas City Royals are doing their best to drop themselves right back into third, as they currently trail the Oakland Athletics, 3-4. Regardless of what happens in Oakland, the Indians have a decent lead in the division, and it’s only going to get harder for teams to catch up if the Indians keep playing like the did tonight.