Chisenhall’s Texas-Sized Night Crushes Rangers; Indians 17, Rangers 7
Mike B. | On 09, Jun 2014
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but even Texas couldn’t handle Lonnie Chisenhall on Monday night.
Chisenhall was 5-for-5, with three home runs, a double, a single and nine runs batted in, helping the Tribe rout the Texas Rangers 17-7. Chisenhall’s nine RBIs tie a team record, originally established by Chris James against the Oakland Athletics in 1991. The five hits added 20 points to Chisenhall’s batting average, leaving it at .385 at the end of the evening.
Cleveland needed more of Chisenhall’s offense than it would like to admit as both teams did not receive quality starts from their pitchers. Rookies T.J. House for the Indians and Nick Martinez for the Rangers both struggled to keep the opponent’s offense in control early. The Tribe’s bullpen was able to curtail the Rangers offense long enough for Chisenhall to do the necessary damage. The win gave the Indians a series victory in the four game set at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The Indians took advantage of the rookie Martinez, making just his seventh big league start, in the first inning. Martinez couldn’t find the strike zone, and when he did, the Tribe made some offense out of it. Michael Bourn led off the game with a walk, Asdrubal Cabrera singled to left field and Michael Brantley walked to load the bases with no one out. Jason Kipnis grounded out to first base and the Rangers conceded the first run of the game. Chisenhall remained hot and ripped a single to right field, scoring Cabrera, to make it 2-0. Carlos Santana helped complete the first inning rally when he grounded to first base. Texas tried to turn a double play, but could only get the out at second base and Brantley scored to make it 3-0 before the Rangers got to the plate.
Texas tried to answer the Tribe’s early rally, but could not string together a big inning like Cleveland did. House, making just his fourth start, was able to minimize the inning after falling behind early. Dan Robertson started the Texas inning with a single and Elvis Andrus walked to put a pair on with no one out. Shin-Soo Choo grounded out to first base and advanced the runners to scoring position. Adrian Beltre grounded to shortstop and Cleveland conceded the run as the Rangers cut the lead to 3-1. House and the Tribe would let Texas get no closer in the inning.
Cleveland’s offense exploded in the second inning, putting the game out of reach early. George Kottaras hit a solo home run to right field with one out to start the explosion. Kottaras’ third home run of the season—also his third hit of the year—made it 4-1. After Bourn grounded out, the two-out rally ensued.
Cabrera doubled to left field and Brantley walked to set the stage before Kipnis singled to right field and both runs scored. Chisenhall then capped the inning, ripping his fifth home run of the season down the right field line. The two-run shot made it 8-1 Cleveland after two innings.
Martinez’s (1-3) evening was complete after just two innings. He allowed eight runs, on six hits and three walks, while only striking out one. Scott Baker came on in long relief for the Rangers in the top of the third inning and promptly allowed another run to the Tribe, keyed by a leadoff double from David Murphy. Fly balls by Jason Giambi and Kottaras moved Murphy to third base and then home and extended the Indians lead to 9-1.
However, House could not minimize the damage in the bottom of the third inning. Texas tallied three runs of their own and swung their way back into the game. Luis Sardinas walked to start the inning. After Robertson struck out, Andrus doubled to left field to put a pair in scoring position. House uncorked a wild pitch and both runners moved up as Sardinas scored. Choo grounded to first base and the Tribe traded the out for another run as Texas cut the lead to 9-3. The Rangers scraped a run closer when Beltre reached on an infield single and scored all the way from first when Alex Rios tripled to left center field. Texas cut the lead to 9-4, but narrow margin would be short-lived.
The Tribe again used the long ball to extend their lead. This time Brantley, along with Chisenhall, did the damage. Brantley hit a solo shot with one out in the top of the fourth inning for his 10th homer of the season. Kipnis kept the offense chugging with a single and stole second base before trotting home on Chisenhall’s second home run of the games. His sixth homer of the season staked the Indians back to an eight run lead, 12-4.
But the slugfest continued and it became apparent that House did not have his best stuff. With a win right in front of him, he would not survive the bottom of the fourth inning. Michael Choice started the inning with a solo home run to left field. His sixth homer of the season flew out in the warm, Texas air. After an out was recorded, Sardinas reached safely on Cabrera’s error and came home on Robertson’s double down the left field line.
It would be the end of the line for House, who pitched three and one-third innings, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks while striking out just one. After starts in his last two appearances that were good enough to win, House could not be effective enough to survive five innings. Scott Atchison (3-0) came on to finish the fourth inning and pitch the fifth inning.
Chisenhall and the Tribe added another run in the top of the sixth inning. With one out Brantley singled to center field for his second hit of the game. Then, Chisenhall had a lengthy at-bat, culminating in a two-out, double to left center field that allowed Brantley to score all the way from first base and make it 13-6, Tribe.
John Axford avoided giving up a run in the sixth inning after allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning. He benefitted from a strike out and bad base running play that resulted in an inning-ending, double play for the Tribe. He worked another scoreless inning in the seventh, marking his 11th of 12 appearances without allowing a run since being stripped of the closer’s role.
Chisenhall capped his evening in the eighth with is final home run. Before Chisenhall could cement himself into the Tribe record books, Cabrera, Brantley and Kipnis each singled, bringing in a run and putting a pair on. Chisenhall’s seventh homer of the year, a three run shot, made the score 17-6 and gave him nine runs batted in on the evening.
It was the end of the road for Baker, who took over in the top of the third inning and allowed nine runs on 11 hits, while striking out seven in five innings of relief. Tyler Scheppers came on to finish the eighth inning for Texas. Robbie Ross pitched the ninth inning.
In addition to Chisenhall’s historic night, he was supported by plenty of offense by his teammates. Cabrera, Brantley and Kipnis each had three hits apiece and Brantley scored five runs—a major part of Chisenhall’s nine RBIs. Cleveland used five home runs in the warm, Texas air to make the offense go.
With the win, and Detroit’s loss, the Indians are just two games behind the Tigers for the American League Central Division lead.
Chisenhall, baseball’s hottest hitter, and the rest of the Indians will open a quick, two-game series on Tuesday evening in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. Corey Kluber (6-3, 3.23) will take the mound for the Indians, while Kansas City counters with left-hander Jason Vargas (5-2, 3.28). Kansas City is just one game behind Cleveland in the standings.
Photo: LM Otero/AP Photo