Offense Breaks Loose With Long Ball to Open May; Indians 9, Blue Jays 4
Mike B. | On 01, May 2015
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? Yes! After each team had leadoff homers in the first inning and three-run outbursts in the third inning, the Cleveland Indians offense sped by the Toronto Blue Jays to a 9-4 victory at Progressive Field on Friday night.
Both starters, Carlos Carrasco and Mark Buehrle didn’t seem to have their best stuff on the evening. Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff homer for Toronto to start the game and Jason Kipnis did the same in the bottom half of the first inning. But after a big third inning by both teams, the Indians tallied runs in the fourth and fifth innings to create a wide margin.
Michael Brantley hit his first home run of the season, a two-run blow, in the fourth inning when he hit a line drive into the bullpens and Brett Hayes hit his second of the year when he crushed a three-run shot in the fifth inning. The two blasts made it 9-4, Cleveland and was enough for Carrasco to hang on for six innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
WP: Carrasco (3-2) LP: Buehrle (3-2)
Key Inning: Bottom of the third inning. After giving up three runs in the top half of the third, the Tribe trailed 4-1 and it looked every bit of another night where the opponent would outscore the Tribe and run away with the game early.
However, the Indians answered back in the bottom of the third when Jason Kipnis walked, Mike Aviles singled and Michael Brantley reached on infield single to load the bases. After Carlos Santana grounded back to the pitcher and Buehrle threw home for the force out, Brandon Moss doubled down the right field line. Kipnis and Aviles scored to make it 4-3, Toronto. After Ryan Raburn was intentionally walked, Lonnie Chisenhall grounded to second base, but Raburn broke up the double play opportunity at second base and Santana scored to tie the game at four.
It was a big inning for the Tribe because too many times this season, once they’ve fallen behind, they’ve gone to sleep. Instead on Friday, the Indians were able to answer back quickly and set up the offense that was to come.
Player of the Game: Michael Brantley. After three hits last night he had two more on Friday, including his first home run of the season. His two-run, laser-shot onto the bullpen gave the Indians a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish. If the Tribe’s offense is going to come back to life and stabilize, Brantley is a big factor and cog. After an injury-riddled April, hampered by a bad back, Brantley looks to be swinging the bat well and running well in the outfield for the first time this season.
They Said It: “They came back and responded to Toronto. They came back with some fight,” Rick Manning said in regards to the Indians offense.
Standings: The Indians improve to 8-14 on the season, still 7.5 games back of American League Central Division leading Kansas City Royals. After digging a huge April hole, the Indians are now faced with a summer of trying to crawl their way back into contention. The Blue Jays drop to 11-13, just 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East.
Etc.: According to Indians manager Terry Francona, Yan Gomes has been “an animal” in his rehab with Tribe trainers. He will travel with the team to Kansas City next week to continue his rehab and begin doing baseball activities. No timetable has yet to be established for a rehab stint or return to the active roster. Gomes is still expected to miss most or all of May.
The Indians placed T.J. House on the disabled list before Friday’s game. House developed shoulder stiffness after his emergency start in Detroit and tried to pitch through it. Cleveland recalled Tyler Holt, who should be able to give the Indians some outfield defense. The Indians don’t need a fifth starter until May 9.
Analysis: While the Indians offense has been cold in the month of April, it was quite surprising to see it come alive this evening. The Indians were 1-8 entering tonight versus left-handed starting pitchers and were hitting only .211 versus southpaws this season. The Indians banged out 13 hits on the evening.
In the top of the third inning, Kevin Pillar hit a triple to right center field, just a step away from Bourn’s outstretched glove. The two-out triple allowed two runs to score, and was a fine example of the Indians’ poor defense that is not easily measured. In 2012, Bourn had the best range among all center fielders in MLB. Now, Bourn is one of the worst. It’s fair to assume that three years ago that ball would have been caught and spared the Indians two runs. How many other balls are turned into doubles or triples that Bourn was once able to corral?
Up Next: The Indians will try to get a win for themselves and Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (0-3, 4.24) on Saturday. Kluber has pitched well this season but received little run support, while pitching deep into games until the opponent has blown the game open. He’ll be opposed by youngster, Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 5.03). The right-hander Sanchez debuted at the big league level last August in the bullpen, but this season is his first as a starting pitcher. Sanchez was a highly-touted starting pitching prospect in the minor leagues.
Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo