All season long Indians pitching has avoided the big inning that could put the team out a game early on and Thursday night in Cleveland ace Corey Kluber did just that.
Surrendering a double to Houston’s Carlos Correa with one out in the third, the Astros tried to jump on the former Cy Young award winner, but could not cash in on bases loaded and only came away with two runs to pad a 3-1 lead.
Facing off against end of the rotation pitcher Mike Fiers, the Indians got some heroics from right fielder Abraham Almonte who hit his first home run of the season, and 12th of his career, and paired that with a sensational grab to rob Yuli Gurriel to give his team a crucial boost they desperately needed to stay in the game.
Despite Almonte’s solo home run, the Indians still trailed late into the game until Francisco Lindor stepped into the box with Yan Gomes aboard and two down in the seventh. Swinging upright on a low and in pitch by Chris Devenski, Lindor launched a ball into low orbit that landed in the visitor’s bullpen at an estimated 456 feet away.
1. Getting the Job Done- Squaring off against one of the best teams in the American League, the Indians came away with a series win and only fell to a brilliant pitching performance by Dallas Keuchel. Facing a vulnerable Houston lineup missing George Springer and Jose Altuve for most of the series, the Indians didn’t squander the opportunity to pounce on the Astros even with the end of the rotation pitching the first two games.
2. Midseason Form Already? – We’re not even out of April, but the Indians seem to be playing July baseball on all fronts. Collecting a third straight series win on Thursday, guys are already matching numbers on the backs of their baseball cards. With surprises in Lindor’s power and an early surge from Lonnie Chisenhall, the Tribe’s bats are coming along as expected. Still warming up to the Cleveland spring, Edwin Encarnacion hit his first home run in front of the Cleveland faithful and Jason Kipnis is getting back into his groove. Even Yan Gomes is feeling it as he has pulled his batting average out from the grave and now batting .200 on the season.
3. Beat the Bullpen- Aside from the Tribe, the best bullpen in the AL right now belongs to the Astros, but the Indians didn’t get that memo. Scoring five runs off the Houston pen, the Indians left their mark on the AL West leaders and showed there’s no quit in this squad. Lindor’s bomb, which even surprised him on the distance, came off of Devenski who gave up just four home runs in all of 2016 (108.1 innings) and has been one of the best relievers in baseball to start the year.
4. Rounding Out April- In perhaps the strangest month of every season, the Tribe showed a little bit of everything in April. Sweeping Texas, getting swept in Houston, winning four of seven series so far, the Tribe sit at 12-9 on the campaign and are half a game up on Detroit for the AL Central lead. Away from home, the Indians are 8-4 and looking to improve on a 4-5 home record.
5. Seattle Up Next- Welcoming in the Mariners for a three-game series to round out April, Seattle brings its struggles to Cleveland as they are currently in the basement of the west at 10-13 and will have for faceoff against Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin. For the Mariners, they will send Ariel Miranda (1-2 4.35 ERA) to the mound tonight to take on one of the best pitchers in baseball this season in Carrasco (2-1 165 ERA).