Frustrated by the poor showing of the Indians offense in recent days, Tribe manager Terry Francona made a lineup change at Progressive Field on Sunday, hoping to shake things up a bit. He moved second baseman Jason Kipnis to the leadoff spot, and moved the normal leadoff hitter Carlos Santana to the fifth slot.
It worked. Kipnis led off the home half of the first inning with a home run to center field, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, a three-run blast to center from Lonnie Chisenhall put the Tribe up 4-0. But they weren’t done yet. Santana led off the home half of the third with a homer to left field. With two outs in the inning and runners on first and third, Kipnis launched his second homer of the day, this time to the seats past right field, giving the Indians an 8-0 lead. Kipnis went 4 for 5, with four RBI.
And starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, no doubt grateful for the chance to pitch with a big lead, did his part, holding the Minnesota Twins scoreless over the first five innings. He gave up a single and two doubles in the sixth, giving the Twins two runs. The first batter he faced in the seventh homered, which caused Francona to go to the bullpen. Bauer didn’t walk a single batter, which is an encouraging sign. Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen each pitched one scoreless inning of relief, and the Indians won, 8-3. The win kept them from losing four consecutive games, something they have not done since the 2015 season.
What with all the home runs flying over the fences, it should be noted that the 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup, Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion, combined for an 0-9 day at the plate. Encarnacion struck out twice. Perhaps it’s time to do a little lineup tinkering with the cleanup position as well.
The Indians remain at home in the upcoming week. They will start a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at 6 PM. Carlos Carrasco will pitch for the Tribe on Monday.