Four Homers Power Plesac and Tribe to Win in Texas; Indians 10, Rangers 3

Zach Plesac took a no-hitter into the fifth and allowed just two knocks on the night, while his teammates backed his strong start with four home runs in a 10-3 victory over the Texas Rangers from Globe Life Park on Tuesday.

The Tribe’s rookie right-hander pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his big league career and bounced back well after a rough start against the Cincinnati Reds his last time out. He gave up just a run on two hits and departed in the eighth, while the bullpen handled the rest in a big offense performance from the Indians that included a rare feat not accomplished by the club in nearly 15 years. The ten-run outburst by the offense came on a night where both Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana were held hitless.

Plesac had a lead before he took his first walk to the mound. Facing right-hander Adrian Sampson, the Indians put runners on the corners with one down as Oscar Mercado tripled to right-center and was joined on the base paths by Santana. Jason Kipnis delivered out of the four-hole with a single to right to put the Tribe up, 1-0. Sampson got the next two to escape further harm.

The Indians left a runner in scoring position in the second after Mike Freeman doubled with two outs, but Lindor followed with a strikeout. Plesac kept the strikeout theme going, cutting down the five, six, and seven hitters on strikes, before his offense broke the game open in the third.

Ramirez – Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Mercado got on base to start the inning on an error by first baseman Ronald Guzman. Mercado moved to second on a groundout by Santana. Kipnis walked to set the stage for a big needed swing from Jose Ramirez, who crushed an 0-1 sinker to the upper deck in right. The 431-foot shot put the Indians up, 4-0. Jake Bauers kept the inning going with a double and, after a strikeout by Roberto Perez, Tyler Naquin joined in the scoring with an RBI-single to right-center to make it a 5-0 game.

Plesac walked his second batter of the game in the third, but retired the next three on outs in the air to protect his lead and prevent a response from the Rangers lineup.

Drew Smyly took over for Sampson in the fourth, but he ran into the same problems as his starter. Mercado singled with one out and stole second (on a fantastic slide after a pickoff attempt from Smyly) before Santana walked for the second of three times on the night. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a double steal and that played big for Kipnis, who drove in his second and third runs of the night with a single to right-center to put Cleveland up, 7-0. Smyly worked out of further trouble after a two-out single by Bauers put a pair on base, striking out Perez to strand two.

Plesac retired the side in order again in the fourth and struck out Asdrubal Cabrera to start the fifth before the Rangers finally put a tally on the scoreboard outside of the error column. After taking a first pitch out of the zone, Rougned Odor homered deep to right, ending the no-hitter and shutout in one swing. Plesac retired the next two.

The Tribe put together a special feat almost 15 years in the making in the seventh to erase what little doubt was left in the lopsided contest. Bauers fouled off two pitches to stay alive before taking Smyly deep. His ninth homer of the season made it an 8-1 game. Two pitches later, Perez joined in the fun, driving a 1-0 cutter the opposite way for his 12th homer of the year. Two pitches after that, Naquin followed suit, taking the southpaw over the wall in center to give the Indians a 10-1 edge.

Plesac allowed his second hit of the game to start the bottom of the seventh as Nomar Mazara singled to left, but three more fly ball outs left the score the same. He returned to the mound in the eighth, but the Texas heat and a high pitch count may have finally bested him as he walked both Guzman and Jeff Mathis before being lifted for reliever Oliver Perez. He got a double play liner to first and struck out Elvis Andrus swinging after a single by Danny Santana.

Brett Martin, pitching for the second time in the series, allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Jordan Luplow and Freeman in the ninth, but got out of the jam unscathed. Nick Wittgren entered for the bottom of the ninth and ran into a bit of a bump in his road, giving up a single in a ten-pitch battle with Mazara before Willie Calhoun laced the next pitch just over the wall in the right field corner to make it a 10-3 game. Wittgren struck out the next two before getting Guzman to ground to short, where a diving Lindor snagged the ball and gunned down the runner to end the ball game.

Plesac – Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Indians moved to 38-34 on the year and now have a winning record on the road at 18-17. They pulled to within a half game of the Rangers in the Wild Card race. The Rangers fell to 39-34 with the loss.

Plesac pitched seven-plus innings for the Indians in the longest start of his brief career. The 24-year-old used his fastball to perfection for much of the night and worked around a career-high five walks allowed by giving up a career-low two hits. He struck out six and threw 102 pitches while earning his second win against two losses.

Sampson was dealt his fourth loss of the campaign. He was charged with five runs (three earned) on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in three innings of work. His five-game winning streak, dating back to his loss on May 12 against Houston, came to an end. Smyly put up a similar line, lasting three and one-third innings while allowing five runs (all earned) on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

The Indians strung together 14 hits on the day to put up their ten runs. Bauers went 3-for-5 and scored twice. Mercado had two hits, walked once, and reached on an error while scoring three different times. He is now hitting .308 on the season. Kipnis had a two-hit day and drove in three. Naquin had two hits and drove two in while Freeman had a pair of hits, including a double. Ramirez went 1-for-5, hitting his fifth homer of the season while pushing his RBI total on the campaign to 27.

The Indians last hit three straight homers in an inning on July 16, 2004. That night, the Indians outslugged the Seattle Mariners, 18-6, using eight home runs to roll to victory. The back-to-back-to-back jacks were accomplished in the third inning, when Matt Lawton (two-run shot), Victor Martinez, and Casey Blake all homered off of Travis Blackley. Martinez’s homer was the first of his three on the night.

The Rangers could not take advantage of five free passes from Plesac and mustered just three hits on the night. Two of those left the yard, with Odor hitting his ninth and Calhoun hitting his third.

Game three of the four-game set from Arlington is scheduled for an 8:05 PM ET start on Wednesday night. The Rangers will send out rookie left-hander Joe Palumbo (0-0, 9.00 ERA), who will be recalled from Double-A Fresno to make his second career start. The Indians will turn to Adam Plutko (3-1, 4.63 ERA), who has made back-to-back quality starts since rejoining the Cleveland rotation.

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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