The Indians had not scored ten runs all season. So it makes perfect baseball sense that benching arguably their lineup’s hottest hitter, Jose Ramirez — the owner of a .359/.419/.667 slash line since the arbitrary date of April 9 — would lead to an offensive explosion.
I suppose it also helped that Rangers starter Matt Moore hammered the strike zone, and the Tribe responded accordingly, but I’d much rather focus on how, for one afternoon at least, the Indians’ offensive woes were a distant memory.
There is no such thing as too much offense
Everyone in the starting lineup reached base, but it was Jason Kipnis who kicked things off in the first inning with a double off the left field wall. Francisco Lindor followed with an opposite field single to put runners at the corners, before Michael Brantley singled up the middle to give the Tribe the lead. Edwin Encarnacion put an exclamation point on the inning with a three-run shot into the left field bleachers, opening up a 4-0 lead.
Texas was able to cut the deficit to 4-1 with a solo shot off Corey Kluber courtesy of Nomar Mazara in the second inning, but Kipnis re-claimed that run and then some with a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning to blow the game open. Just three batters later, Encarnacion followed suit with his second home run of the game, scoring two runs to make it 9-2.
Rajai Davis sent a sacrifice fly to center field in the third inning to score Brandon Guyer from third with the bases loaded, giving the Tribe that coveted tenth run. Lindor and Encarnacion each added a solo shot in the 8th to extend the Indians’ lead to 12-4.
Yes, Encarnacion had three home runs after hitting all of six in the month of April. It seems the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” also applies to him.
Moore lasted four innings and gave up 11 hits, 10 earned runs, and two walks — his worst start in what has been an uninspiring first month of the season thus far with the Rangers.
Corey Kluber versus the solo shot
Kluber borrowed a page from Josh Tomlin’s playbook and allowed three solo home runs over seven innings pitched — and I swear all three of them were hit to the exact same spot in right center field. But he finished with six strikeouts and no walks for a solid outing.
The bullpen can’t plug the leak
For the sixth straight game since Andrew Miller was placed on the DL, the Indians’ bullpen allowed at least one run to score. Dan Otero relieved Kluber to start the 8th and promptly gave up a double off the left field wall to Drew Robinson. Advancing to third on a groundout from Delano DeShields, Robinson would score on a single by Shin-Soo Choo.
Fortunately, Otero was able to induce an inning-ending double play to limit the damage.
Ben Taylor, called up from Triple-A Columbus this morning as Matt Belisle was designated for assignment, pitched the ninth inning to close it out.
A swan song for E-Gon?
It was discussed during the broadcast that the Tribe’s front office plans to make a decision regarding Erik Gonzalez and Giovanny Urshela, who is ready to return from the DL, within the next 24 hours. Both are out of minor league options and the Indians are not going to carry more than one utility infielder, so one of them will have to go.
If today’s game was Gonzalez’s final audition, he nailed it.
Starting at third base in place of Ramirez, Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a single, a double, and a triple. Just a home run shy of the cycle. If this was his last game with the Tribe, he certainly made sure it was a memorable one.
Next: The Indians close out their home stand with a double header against the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow. Carlos Carrasco will pitch the matinee, facing left-hander Jaime Garcia. In the evening, Adam Plutko will make the spot start for the Tribe. The Blue Jays have yet to announce a starter for that second game.