Every athlete is taught to have a “next-play” mentality, but it’s the special ones that are able to kick their game into another level when the last play was on them.
Francisco Lindor stepped into the batter’s box in the 6th inning without his signature smile. He lost it half an inning after being charged with an error that resulted in a 3-2 lead eventually becoming a 5-3 deficit.
Whether or not the error should have been charged to Lindor is in question. It was an error, but not necessarily on Lindor.
It wasn’t necessarily not an error on Lindor, as Jose Ramirez assumed the shortstop was going to force out Joey Gallo at second. Edwin Encarnacion’s same assumption led to Lindor’s eventual throw being tipped out of play to then score Gallo before Nomar Mazara singled home Shin-Soo Choo to make the deficit 6-3.
When Lindor left the batter’s box in the top of the sixth, the smile remained missing, though the deficit shrunk to 6-4.
The job was not done.
Even when Lindor eradicated the trio’s collective faux pas in the 9th with the first grand slam of his career, Lindor was not smiling, rather hollering to his teammates to finish the sweep.
That may be the Lindor that opponents do not want to see.
Smiling Lindor? It’s the norm, although things probably are not in your favor.
Bounding, angry Lindor? You. Messed. Up.
The 23-year old has made himself into the heart of a team, led by young talent almost across the board that has shown immense mental fortitude.
Not every error will be followed by five RBI on two home runs, but the fact that you see a grimacing Lindor so seldom means that the Indians are generally in the driver’s seat.
The fact that you eventually saw him grimace means there will be more to smile about down the road.
A few outs after the game-winning slam, Lindor fired the final out to Encarnacion, with no confusion about it.
Leaving Elvis’ Building
If a series sweep wasn’t enough, Terry Francona will be happy to get out of Arlington as Elvis Andrus has officially cemented himself as an Indians killer.
The Rangers’ shortstop entered play on Wednesday with a higher AVG, SLUG and OBP against the Indians than any other American League team (.365/.434/.505). The OBP and OPS (.939) is the most against any team.
Andrus went 2-for-4 with a solo home run on Wednesday, thus ending the series 4-for-10, and hitting for the cycle.
The 28-year old split .360/.407/.400 against the Tribe in 2016.
Tyler Naquin’s 9th inning single was key to keeping the Indians’ game-winning rally alive, but it may have been the most annoying part of that half-inning to the Rangers.
The center fielder chopped a Sam Dyson changeup to left field at a -31 degree launch angle at 99 mph that was enough to evade third baseman Joey Gallo a la an Astroturf bounce.
Statcast gave Naquin’s bouncer a 14% hit probability.