At 11-13, the Indians have yet to prove they're ready to be taken seriously as contenders, but thus far in this young season, they've shown they can mash — at least some of the time. They came into the night second in the league in slugging percentage at .438 and tied for fourth in homers at 29, then went about improving those rankings by pounding Phillies starter Roy Halladay and two other relievers for a season-high seven homers in a 14-2 rout.
Leading the way was Ryan Raburn, who homered twice for the second day in a row, his entire output of the season. He also singled, giving him seven hits and seven RBIs over the course of a two-day spree that lifted his batting line from .214/.283/.286 to .320/.370/.620 (gotta love those small sample sizes). Raburn connected for a two-run homer off Chad Durbin in the fourth inning and a solo shot off Raul Valdes in the seventh.
Durbin and Valdes each allowed two homers apiece, but the more disturbing facet for the Phillies was the three allowed by Halladay, who was riding a string of three strong outings in a row after a terrible first two starts. In 3 2/3 innings, the 35-year-old righty surrendered nine hits and eight runs. Four of the runs came in the first inning, via a pair of two-out, two-run homers by Carlos Santana (his fifth of the year) and Mark Reynolds (his team-high eighth).
While Halladay settled down to pitch two scoreless innings, he served up a two-run homer to Lonnie Chisenhall (his third). He would depart after surrendering three more hits in the inning, capped by a two-run Asdrubal Cabrera single.
Durbin extricated the Phillies from the fourth inning, but served up Raburn's first shot in the fifth and then a two-run homer to Michael Brantley (his first of the year). Both came with two outs and the latter pushed the score to 12-2. Valdes came on, worked a scoreless sixth and struck out the first two batters of the seventh before serving up solo shots to Raburn (his fourth of the year) and Drew Stubbs (his second) to close out the scoring.
The seven homers were one short of the Indians' franchise record of eight, set on April 25, 1997 against the Brewers (three by Matt Williams, two by David Justice, one each by Sandy Alomar Jr., Chad Curtis and Manny Ramirez) and tied on July 16, 2004 against the Mariners (three by Victor Martinez and one each by Casey Blake, Ben Broussard, Jody Gerut, Travis Hafner and Matt Lawton). The homers were the most by any team since the Orioles hit seven against the Blue Jays last September 26 (two apiece by Chris Davis and Manny Machado, one each by Nate McLouth, Reynolds and Jim Thome), but prior to that, a team hit at least seven homers in a game just three times from 2009 through 2011: the Reds hit seven on July 4, 2010 against the Cubs and again on August 13, 2011 against the Padres, while the Blue Jays hit eight against the Rays on August 7, 2010.
Overall, teams hit at least seven homers in a game 40 times from the beginning of 1993 — when MLB expanded to include Colorado and Florida, and homers began climbing to all-time high levels — through 2012. By comparison, it happened just 37 times from 1916 through 1992. The high in the post-1992 period is nine homers, served up by the Phillies against the Reds on September 4, 1999, while the major league record is 10 in a game, set by the Blue Jays against the Orioles on September 14, 1987.
Despite the Indians' strong showing in the AL rankings, their offense has been rather uneven thus far. While they've scored 33 runs over their last three games, they had managed just 12 runs over their previous five. They scored 19 against the Astros on April 20, just before the start of that dry spell, but 11 in their previous five games before that. Through 24 games, they've scored two runs or less 10 times (the seventh-highest total in the majors), and nine runs or more six times (second in the majors). Thanks to that odd distribution, and a pitching staff that's allowed 4.65 runs per game (fifth-highest in the league) they've outscored opponents by 11 runs overall, yet they're two games under .500. As for the Phillies , they fell to 12-15. Halladay averaged 91.1 mph with his fastball according to BrooksBaseball.net's PITCHf/x data, tied with his April 19 outing against the Cardinals for his best velocity of the season, and slightly faster than the 90.6 mph he averaged against the Pirates on April 24, but the results were drastically different. In 382 previous starts, he had only allowed three or more homers 10 times, the last on May 30, 2011 against the Nationals. He had only allowed eight or more runs 10 times, the last against the Braves on May 2, 2012. It's back to the drawing board for he and the Phillies.