Second Thoughts Game #40: Indians 15, Blue Jays 4
Tribe offense explodes for 22 hits as six players notch multi-hit games
Player of the Game: David Murphy (5-for-6 with three doubles and five RBI)
The Indians did something Wednesday they haven’t accomplished since facing Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees almost 86 years ago.
Tallying 15 runs on 22 hits, Cleveland blew past Toronto 15-4 to even up the three-game series in Canada at one game apiece. Six of the nine hitters in the Tribe lineup posted multi-hit games, including five-hit performances from David Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall.
The two hitters combined went a remarkable 10-for-12 at the plate with four doubles and six RBI. It marked the first time the Indians had two players collect at least five hits in the same nine inning game since July 29, 1928.
It wasn’t until the later innings where the Tribe did their most damage. Holding onto a 4-2 lead heading to the seventh, hitters erupted for 11 runs on 12 hits over the final three frames, capped off on a three-run homer by Yan Gomes for the easy victory. Launching 11 home runs in 88 games one year ago, the Indians catcher has already gone yard six times this season.
Hats for Bats
And who says Cleveland has a problem scoring runs?
Scoring just 13 runs on their winless six-game road trip two weeks ago, the 15 runs Wednesday marked the most in a game for the Tribe since June 28, 2013. A sign of hopefully more to come for the surging offense, posting four or more runs in seven of their last eight games.
Four runs has been the magic number not only this year, but since the start of last season. The team is 15-5 when scoring at least four runs and an astounding 90-22 in the same category since the beginning of 2013.
Mike Aviles continues to not miss a beat, filling in nicely for the injured Jason Kipnis. The utility infielder went 2-for-6 with a RBI single, recording at least two hits in a game in six of his last 12. His double play partner Asdrubal Cabrera has also continued to heat up. Collecting three hits Wednesday, Cabrera is hitting .467 (14-for-30) with four doubles, two homers and 5 RBI over his last seven games.
The team tagged Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan (2-2, 5.08 ERA) for four runs through four innings of work, before exploding for their final 11 runs against Toronto relievers Marcus Stroman and Neil Wagner in just 2 2/3 innings.
Offensively, the Tribe went 12-for-26 (.462) with runners in scoring position Wednesday against Blue Jays pitching. They were just 12-for-55 (.218) in their previous six games.
While the offense was off making history, Indians starter Corey Kluber (4-3, 3.38 ERA) recorded yet another quality start from the five-man rotation.
Tossing seven quality innings, the right-hander allowed just two runs on four hits (1 BB / 9 SO). Over his last five starts, Kluber improves to 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA, walking seven and striking out 47 in 35 1/3 innings.
He has been a great compliment and No. 2 starter the team has needed behind ace Justin Masterson in order to continue to contend in the American League Central. Consistency has been the key from the 28 year-old since the beginning of last season, where Kluber has whiffed 202 batters over his last 206 innings, becoming one of the most underrated young starting pitchers in the game.
Tribe hurlers have now allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of their last 12 starts.
- Outfielders Michael Brantley and Nyjer Morgan left the ballgame Wednesday after suffering minor injuries. Brantley left the game in the fifth inning with mid-back tightness, while Morgan exited with a mild right knee sprain. Both players are considered day-to-day and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
- Every hitter in the Cleveland lineup collected at least one hit in the ballgame except for first baseman Nick Swisher. The switch-hitter went 0-for-4, lowering his season average to a dismal .199 through 39 games.
- Despite hitting .154 and struggling so far this year, Carlos Santana launched his fifth homer of the season in the fifth inning, giving the cleanup hitter 13 RBI.
- Manager Terry Francona noted in pregame that Kipnis is on the fast track to returning to the Tribe as early as late next week. The second baseman has been on the 15-day disabled list for two weeks after straining his right oblique back on May 2. He will have to go on a rehab assignment before returning to the big league club.
Winners of eight of their last 12, Cleveland (19-21) still sits seven games behind front-runner Detroit in the A.L. Central standings. They improve to 13-7 on the year when scoring first in a ballgame.
Up next for Indians: The Tribe looks to take the three-game series with Toronto in the rubber match Thursday at 7:07 p.m. Right-hander Danny Salazar (1-3, 5.65 ERA) gets the start against Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.63 ERA) where a victory will give the Wahoo’s their fourth straight series win.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
High praise indeed.
Do we expect Morgan or Brantley going on the DL?
The series is there for the taking with a W tonight.. Good offensive outburst.. With Nyger and Dr Smooth, perhaps, sitting, the OF could be Raburn, Aviles and Bourn with Jose Ramirez starting at 2B and Lonnie Dh'ing.. Should be interesting seeing Lonnie hitting against a leftie.. This might be his chance to show he is more than a platoon kind of corner IF'er..