Sooner or later he had to hit, right?
Jordan Luplow was rapidly approaching 30 at-bats without a hit entering today’s game. Yet, as he has so many times this season, he was plugged into the lineup against a right-handed pitcher despite his career splits pointing to a heavy platoon bat.
The difference was it actually worked this time, and he joined the hit parade that the Indians displayed in the top of the fourth when he took a Drew Anderson meatball and deposited it in the empty outfield seats. He went hitless with a walk and strikeout throughout the rest of the game, but he got that first hit — against a righty, no less — so hopefully there’s something to work off there.
Along with Luplow, Franmil Reyes and Domingo Santana homered — the former as part of the fourth-inning rally and the latter as the dagger in the eighth inning. Santana, playing in just his second game in the last week, notched two hits on the day. His home run was the definition of barreled: 110.9 mph exit velocity, 26-degree launch angle, 454 feet, 100% expected batting average. A true slump-buster.
Similar to their offense outburst against the Reds, the bulk of today’s runs came in one inning. After three innings of the same offensive futility that has the Tribe in the bottom of the league’s offensive rankings, César Hernández drew a walk to start the fourth. Two batters later, Francisco Lindor doubled and Carlos Santana walked, as he tends to do. Twice a ball got by catcher Yasmani Grandal in the inning, and twice the Indians scored.
With a 2-0 lead in a situation that would result in disappointment more times than not this season, Franmil Reyes came to the plate and crushed a two-run home run 421 feet. It was his second home run of the young season, and his first since he hit one out against the Reds on August 4.
Reyes’ homer was nice, of course, but he also lined an inside pitch over the shortstop, and that’s always good to see. He’s not going to crush everything that comes at him but he stayed back on a few and finished with a season-high two more hits. He’s now hit safely twice in three straight games.
Carlos Santana walked three more times today, making for nine total walks over his last three games. He’s walked at least once in seven games, has five multi-walk games to date, and he’s walked in all but four games. It might benefit the team if he got a couple extra-base hits here and there but he’s being pitched like this:
... he’s going to get his walks.
Against all (most?) odds, Zach Plesac had another outstanding outing on the mound. He went 6.0 innings, struck out seven and issued one walk in his shutout performance. Most importantly (to someone, I’m sure) he got his first win on the year.
He did not rely all that heavily on his fastball (33 of 95 pitches), but it was either a called strike or swing and miss 52% of the time he threw it. His other pitches were equally effective. Plesac’s slider, for instance, was thrown 26 times and put into play three times with a maximum velocity of 93.1 mph. He still doesn’t seem to have quite a feel for his change-up location, but it worked well enough to keep it out of trouble.
The bullpen carried the torch for Plesac from the seventh inning onward, and the only White Sox run on the day came off rookie Cam Hill. An ill-advised fastball over the heart of the plate was hammered by Yoan Moncada — Hill’s first earned run of the season.
The Indians can now head back to their heavily sanitized hotel room feeling good about their bats and prepare for a Sunday Night feature tomorrow as Shane Bieber faces off against Lucas Giolito.