When the New York Yankees took a 3-0 lead on a pair of homers in the 4th inning of Sunday's affair against Triston McKenzie and the Tribe, it sure did feel like this had all the makings of an ugly four-game sweep at Progressive Field.
Instead sparked by a huge three-run blast in the bottom of the frame by Franmil Reyes, the Indians built a lead and held on, topping New York
The win stops the Indians four-game losing streak, and they had also lost six of seven entering play on Sunday.
"We hung well with them," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We needed to win a game, our guys did a really good job today, they kept plugging away"
Never in game 20 in a MLB season that extends six months and 162 games is it a 'must-win,' but even for Francona, he said this was a game that was REALLY nice to walk away from with a 'W.'
"The early part of the game was kind of frustrating," Francona said.
Here's a couple takeaways from the four-run win Sunday at Progressive Field.
1. A Big Day For 'Rey'
Don't look now but it appears that Indians DH Franmil Reyes is heading into one of those 'hot streaks' he's been known for since coming to the Indians in July of along with then closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber in the deal that sent Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres.
Reyes has had stretches where he looks like a world beater at the plate, hitting the ball all over the place.
Then there's those times when you look at him and realize that he's not gotten a hit in 6-7 games and has struck out a bunch.
Right now, 20 games into 2021, he's back on the good foot, as he's hitting the ball hard, and hustling to bases like we've never seen before.
Sunday Reyes not only stole ANOTHER base, but also got ANOTHER triple - already his 2nd of 2021, this after never hitting one in his career.
"I know he's probably not going to lead the league in triples, but when he hits it he runs, and he keeps his head up and knows where the ball is," Francona said of his DH.
"It's kind of inspiring, at least it is for me. I know it kind of makes me feel better when I see that. He gives you a pretty good effort."
He'll be known for his power, but it's awesome to see the big man do his best impression of former Houston Oilers running back and Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, racing through the offensive line.
In this case Reyes has been already surprising in the speed he's shown 20 games into the 2021 campaign.
2. Hentges Notches Win Number One
Indians middle reliever Sam Hentges got credit for the win on Sunday, pulling off a victory before he was pulled off and introduced to a little post game celebration by his teammates.
After the game Tito Francona divulged to the media that Hentges was 'pulled into the shower' and given a beer bath, nothing but love from his teammates who were proud of the young 24-year-old.
"It was cold, very cold," Hentges said of his little post party.
Hentges wasn't even aware he was in line for the win until one of his friends on the team - and Sunday's starter Triston McKenzie, informed him of it.
"I wasn't actually aware of it until Triston (McKenzie) told me about it," Hentges said.
"I got back into the clubhouse, and it's a good feeling to go out there and put the team in a position to win."
Putting teams away and winning games like Sunday will only give Francona more confidence to go to a pitcher like Hentges during critical moments in games.
3. A Critical End to the Homestand
The Minnesota Twins invade Cleveland for the first of three games (and the first of a WHOLE lot more starting on Monday evening at 6:10pm.
The Indians and Twins has become a fun little rivalry to watch the last few seasons, going back to when the Indians were the bullies and the Twins were just an afterthought to winning the AL Central.
Then all the sudden the Twins started to build, and their young players started to mature, and just like that it became the Indians that were no longer the big kids on the block.
The Tribe though got back on track the last few years, getting the postseason as either AL Central champs or as a wild card team in 2016, 17, 18 and 20.
The one thorn in their side has been the Twins, who boast a number of big boppers in their lineup, and also have a solid amount went it comes to quality pitching, but in the rotation and in the pen.
Now here in 2021 the Twins are off to a tough start, as they've limped out of the gate at 7-12, already trailing the shocking Royals by five and a half games for the AL Central top spot.
The Indians need to play good ball the next three days and build on Sunday's big win to get back to form in the division.