Indians return to winning ways at Salt River Fields
Chisenhall, Cabrera, Paulino power Tribe to 7-1 win over D-Backs
After a bump in the road on Monday in Goodyear against the Angels, the Indians returned to their winning ways on Tuesday as they took to the road to face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields in Talking Stick.
Powered by a two-run homer by Lonnie Chisenhall and a late two-run double by prospect Dorssys Paulino, the Tribe jumped ahead early and never looked back as they soundly defeated the hometown team 7-1, giving staff ace Justin Masterson his first victory of the exhibition campaign.
Player of the Game: Asdrubal Cabrera (2-2, RBI, R, BB)
Is it his performance last season, his upcoming contract year, or maybe a combination of the two?
Whatever the case may be, Cabrera has risen from the ashes of the key double play he grounded into during the Wild Card game and has taken the Cactus League by storm so far this spring as he now has seven hits in 17 at-bats with three doubles and two RBI in eight games. Additionally, he has walked three times and only struck out twice.
On Tuesday against Arizona, the former All-Star shortstop reached base in all three trips to the plate and drove in a run with a ground-rule double, also scoring a run.
Of course, the Cactus League and the regular season are two different things, but after the struggles he had at the plate at times last season, this is certainly nice to see.
One thing I've noted from Lonnie Chisenhall in his at-bats so far this week is that he is getting a good portion of the bat on the ball almost every time, but it just hasn't fallen for a hit.
On Tuesday, however, he got the whole bat on the ball as he cracked a two-run homer to deep center field at Salt River Fields for his first blast of the spring.
While his .273 batting average on the spring isn't terrible, it could be better the way he's hitting the ball. His home run on Tuesday was his first extra-base hit, however, and accounted for two of his three RBI thus far.
While he denies feeling any serious pressure about losing his job on opening day to teammate Carlos Santana, you still have to wonder if maybe the current situation at third base is working as an incentive for Chisenhall to prove he is still worthy of the starting job.
It could also be the wisdom of veteran DH Jason Giambi last September before Chisenhall went on a month-long hot streak that carried over into the Wild Card Game about not worrying so much about his stats and focusing on one game, one at-bat and one pitch at a time.
Don't Run On Yan!
In quite a comical, yet still majestic display in the third inning, former Tribesman Shelley Duncan was plunked by Masterson and then proceeded to attempt to steal second base on a botched hit-and-run play.
For a moment, it looked as though he may slide in safely, despite the fact that speed is not his strong suit, for Indians catcher Yan Gomes had bobbled the ball during the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand. But it was still the strong arm of the Brazilian backstop that prevailed as he just managed to gun down the veteran outfielder at second.
Then again, Duncan's slide wasn't exactly textbook.
Still, it further demonstrates just how talented a defensive catcher Gomes has become in just his brief time with the Tribe, and while a replication of his offensive numbers last season would be nice, the meat of his value as a player really comes from what he does behind the plate, with anything he gives the Tribe swinging the bat being an added bonus.
Is it just me or does Dorssys Paulino really like playing in spring training?
The top Indians middle infield prospect has now only played in two career Cactus League games, but in four at-bats, he has already recorded three hits, a double, an RBI, and two runs scored. Those numbers were bolstered by his two-run double in his only at-bat on Tuesday which all but put the game far out of reach for Arizona.
Paulino is an exciting prospect for the Tribe even though he had somewhat of a disappointing season for Single-A Lake County in 2013, batting only .246 with five homers and 46 RBI.
The Indians believe he is one of the more gifted hitters to come through the farm system in a while, though, and he will get a chance to prove that last season was an anomaly as he projects to start the season once again with the Captains.
Facts and Tidbits
- Following the game, Indians manager Terry Francona officially named Justin Masterson as the opening day starter.
- Trevor Cahill, who departed early from his start on Tuesday after injuring himself covering first base, is only considered day-to-day with a jammed right knee.
- Former Indians Duncan and Andy Marte both appeared in the game for the D-Backs and went a combined 1-for-2 with a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch.
- Left-fielder Michael Brantley has reached base in all but one of his Cactus League games this spring so far.
- Three outfield-assisted double plays were recorded during Tuesday's game, one by Arizona (9-4-3) and two by the Tribe (9-4-6, 9-3).
Up Next: Padres (5-6) vs. Indians (10-2-1) @ Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch at 4:05pm ET.
The Indians and Padres will have a rematch at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday following a 4-4 tie in Peoria over the weekend as two young right-handers will square off in Tyson Ross and Corey Kluber. Ross has yet to allow a run in two appearances and last week against the Cubs, Kluber shined in three innings of work allowing only a hit and striking out five.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
Paulino will have a better year at Lake County and hopefully before the end year make to Carolina.