Five Notes on Tribe's Start to Road Trip
Heading out from Cleveland to Minnesota, the Indians just felt like they were right on the cusp of something big, despite losing their third series in a row after dropping two of three to Detroit.
Erupting for 13 runs on 19 hits on Saturday against the Tigers, the Indians came out aggressive at the plate on Sunday just before leaving for an eight-hit performance, but just couldn't get the big hit needed to send runners home.
Needing to stay in gear on offense, the Indians made the short trip up to Minneapolis looking to continue their approach at the plate and waiting for good things to come.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait- Falling silent for most of the Arizona and Chicago series, the Indians bats have woken up out of a coma the past six days spanning back to the White Sox series where the team hasn't had less than eight hits. Seeing pitches and still looking for the team to mesh, the Indians put everything in to motion on Tuesday for another big offensive outburst for 11 runs to give the bullpen a rest and flex what the team is capable of.
Ramirez Stays Hot; Edwin's bat wakes up- Who knows where the 2017 Indians would stand without the helping hand of Jose Ramirez. Batting .365 on the season with four home runs and 15 RBIs, Ramirez is near the top in almost every offensive category and might just be the hottest hitter in all of baseball right now. Needing some help around him, Edwin Encarnacion had the best game of his Indians' career on Tuesday night. It wasn't just the 1-3 night with a home run and 3 RBIs, but Encarnacion looked comfortable at the plate for the first time in a Cleveland uniform. He worked counts, stayed away from junk out of the zone and his swing was much more relaxed than it had been over the past two weeks.
Danny with his Best Stuff Yet- Still struggling as a team to get pitchers deep into games, Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin both provided a big boost by working deep into the first two games of the series to really help both the offense and bullpen out. Working out of jams and preventing a big inning that could have gotten away from both pitchers, both Tomlin and Salazar overcame rocky starts and settled in for quality starts against the Twins. For Salazar, the strikeouts keep coming for the man who hasn't been known as a strikeout pitcher. Refining his stuff in the offseason, we saw the absolute best of Danny on Monday as he combined his approach of relying on his defense with his ability to make hitters miss for a perfect blend of what he can do. Burning the Twins for seven strikeouts over 6.0 innings of work, Salazar now ranks second in the majors with 27 K's over his first three starts and trails only Boston's Chris Sale for the Major League lead.
Tomlin Silences the Doubters- Proving something in his own way, Josh Tomlin showed us on Tuesday that he's still the pitcher he's been with an excellent performance. Like Salazar, Tomlin worked 6.0 innings and allowed three earned to give the Indians a chance, which the offense answered on and then some, and showed great resolve to get out of a big jam and settle in. Working with an early 3-0 lead, a rough bottom half of the inning with an error made some think the worst as the Twins pulled right back in with a pair of runs in the home half of the first. But Tomlin just kept working and went onto retire seven in a row after the first inning. Getting the performance both men needed, the Indians' pitching seems to be shaping up nicely after the rough beginning.
The Indians' Identity- Indians' manager Terry Francona said before the season that each team is different with its own identity and that it may take some time for the 2017 team to find there's. Boasted with some big name talent and a big reputation after 2016, the Indians look to be gelling together to find that identity as a team. Pulling up from out of the bottom of the American League Central standings, the Indians are playing their best ball right now and we only had to wait 14 games. Patiently waiting for the return of second baseman Jason Kipinis, which may come as soon as Friday per reports, the team isn't fully assembled and yet flexing what they are capable of before April is even over.