Francisco Lindor and Lonnie Chisenhall celebrate the Indians’ 8-1 victory on Friday night. Their big offensive performance came on the heels of a 12-5 win on Thursday.
There are many games this season where it seemed like the Indians really struggled to get 5 hits, nonetheless 5 runs. It’s one of the reasons this team has been so frustrating – because you see flashes of what this lineup can do and you wonder why they can’t do it with any consistency. I was joking in Friday night’s open thread that Nik Turley was likely to shut the Indians down as a journeyman lefty making his second big league start. Plus I figured that it was unlikely the Indians could put up two consecutive big offensive performances, after Thursday afternoon’s 12-5 victory. (It seems like the day after a good game, it’s followed by a game where the Indians struggle to score a single run). However, I was pleasantly surprised by Friday night’s game as the Indians beat the Twins 8-1.
There are two people that stood out for me this evening – Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Carrasco. Encarnacion went 1-for-4, but that 1 hit was a monstrous 3-run home run that put the Indians out to a 4-0 lead. Even though the Indians didn’t even need that much offense tonight, thanks to the strong start by Carrasco, they got plenty of help from the rest of the lineup. Jose Ramirez went 3-for-4, Yan Gomes went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, and Lonnie Chisenhall went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Carrasco allowed just 1 ER on 4 hits, striking out 7 and walking 3 in 6.1 IP. Bryan Shaw and Boone Logan finished the game with 2.2 perfect innings pitched between them.
The only negatives I can take away from tonight’s game involve potential injuries. Jose Ramirez was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning; I’m hoping that he doesn’t miss any time from it (he stayed in the game after it). And a pitch that knocked Jason Kipnis off the plate in the eighth inning appeared to re-aggravate his neck injury. He immediately reacted, cringing and grabbing at his neck, and Erik Gonzalez came in to play second base in the bottom of the eighth.
It seems like every time I choose to mock the Indians, they respond by doing something to make my criticism look foolish. I’m already trying to think of some good insults for tomorrow’s doubleheader, where Ryan Merritt will make his first major league start since the ALCS and Mike Clevinger will take the ball in game 2. Maybe I should start by saying that there’s no way the Indians could score 8+ runs for a third consecutive day? Or perhaps I should rephrase since there are 2 games – 4 consecutive games with 8+ runs.
And last, but certainly not least, I’d like to talk about Edwin Encarnacion a little bit. He had a rough start to the season, as he does during most seasons. It was enough for everyone to start panicking though, saying it was the next Nick Swisher/Michael Bourn deal, that we were stuck with a $60 million mistake, etc. To be fair, some of Encarnacion’s at-bats in April and early May were awfully annoying – even if he managed to clobber the ball (which he did, often) it ended up an out. But I knew that we likely had to be patient as fans, since his patterns are fairly well established. Just as an example, here is a month-by-month breakdown for 2015, 2016, and so far in 2017:
As you can see, these numbers are fairly consistent over the past three seasons (taking the beginning of 2017 into account). Overall, Encarnacion is hitting .255/.367/.463 with 13 home runs. As a comparison, Mike Napoli is hitting .192/.262/.407 with 11 home runs in Texas this year. Napoli was awesome and had a major positive impact on the team in 2016; I still think we’re better off with Encarnacion moving forward.
As a side bonus, my dog has started sticking her arm out almost like Encarnacion does with his “parrot” when he hits a home run. In reality, she’s gearing up to slap us because she’s not getting enough attention and/or not getting her way. I like to think she’s an Encarnacion fan though, and enjoys watching some dingers.