The Indians offense snapped back to life today against some mediocre Cubs pitching in Mesa. The Tribe pounded out 20 hits as they defeated Chicago 13-5, and avoided a near disaster as a comebacker in the first inning hit Carlos Carrasco in the head. Carrasco stayed in the game, and was joined by Zach McAllister and Trevor Bauer; each pitcher was stretched out to three innings as they held the Cubs to 7 hits and 4 earned runs.
Today’s lineup was dominated by potential starters (minus the World Baseball Classic departures) and they hit the Cubs early and often. Lonnie Chisenhall, Nick Swisher, and Mark Reynolds all homered in today’s game; Drew Stubbs doubled and tripled as he went 2 for 4. Chisenhall ended the day 3 for 3, Swisher 3 for 4, Reynolds 2 for 4, Jeremy Hermida 2 for 4, and Francisco Lindor 2 for 4. A number of other players got hits as well, but those were the standout, multi-hit performances. Chisenhall, Stubbs, Swisher, and Reynolds combined for 12 of the 13 RBI. Even if this offensive outburst came at the expense of lesser pitchers, it was still a nice change after the offense was shut down yesterday.
Since they’re starting to stretch the pitchers out a bit, Carrasco, McAllister and Bauer were the only three to appear in today’s game. Carrasco attempted to deflect a comebacker in the first with his glove, but it managed to hit him in the head. Francona and the trainer came out to the mound to observe Carrasco and performed concussion tests on him. When he appeared to be okay (and successfully threw a few pitches) they left him in the game. He ran into a bit of trouble in the second inning, surrendering a home run to Alfonso Soriano, but managed to last through the third allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits and a walk. McAllister had an excellent day, giving up just one hit over his three innings. Bauer ran into a bit of trouble, giving up 2 earned runs (3 total) on 2 hits and a walk. He started off the seventh by walking Jorge Soler, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Logan Watkins followed that with a double, which scored Soler; Watkins was able to advance to third on an error by center fielder Cedric Hunter. Watkins was able to score on a groundout, accounting for the unearned run. Bauer gave up a solo home run to Johermyn Chavez to lead off the bottom of the eighth, but completed the rest of the game without incident.
Overall it was a very positive day. The Indians got some great performances from four players that will hopefully have a major impact in the lineup once the season starts, and dodged a major bullet when Carrasco avoided injury on that comebacker. Who knows if Carrasco will be able to earn one of the starting pitching spots, but you don’t want to eliminate him from contention on March 4 with a serious injury. Bauer had some shaky moments, but it sounded as if he still looked pretty impressive. McAllister, who became one of the rotation’s most reliable pitchers late in the season, had an excellent afternoon.
The Indians play the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale tomorrow afternoon at 3:05 ET.