CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The reports of Edwin Encarnacion’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
The big-time signing for the Indians has been hot for weeks now, but the team unarguably got their money’s worth on Friday, at least one game’s worth of it.
Encarnacion was 3-for-4, with all three hits ending up in runs, including a two-run home run in the 5th that gave the Indians a lead they would not relinquish.
“That was nice for him and us,” Manager Terry Francona said. “To see him come up in that situation and… do what we got him here to do, it’s nice. I was happy for him.”
Dating back to May 16th, Encarnacion is now 22-for-69 (.319) with two doubles, six home runs and 12 RBI in 19 games.
Reports of Encarnacion starting slowly made it far enough to reach starter Corey Kluber, who was gracious for his designated hitter adhering to the job title.
“I don’t think we ever panicked or were doubting what he is capable of,” Kluber said. “I think there’s a reason he has done it as consistently as he has for as long as he has. Some guys are quick starters, some guys are slow starters, but I think throughout the course of the year if you stay consistent guys usually fall into the area where they are.”
The thing that stood out about CF Bradley Zimmer, the team’s top prospect heading into the season, was his length and the power bat that came with it.
The speed is something that was apparent to those who saw him in person, and the contact was something that was expected to come with time. But on Friday, the Indians’ prized prospect showed off another tool in what is emerging as an arsenal of five: his arm.
In Kluber’s troublesome 3rd inning, the 24-year old rookie uncorked a laser home after an Avasail Garcia single landed in front of him, beating Melky Cabrera out at home by a step for the youngster’s first career outfield assist.
“It’s just another thing, just another moment you save there,” he said. “I got to it quick and I tried to get rid of it as quick as I could. I threw it pretty low but luckily I had enough to get it there. But yeah, it was big. It was big.
“”For me, it is just ball first. Make sure you steal the ball and get rid of it. For me, I mean, as you can see, I tried to keep it low, because I feel like my ball is going to carry, if I keep it down like that it still may carry.”
Zimmer slipped on the outfield grass, still wet from a 36 minute rain delay, when trying to grab his second assist a batter later on an RBI single by Todd Frazier. He had a third chance on a sacrifice fly attempt off of the bat of Jose Abreu, but the throw was up the third base line.
The initial throw limited the White Sox to two runs in the inning and a one run lead, thanks to Zimmer, who then was able to get the game back level.
An inning later, Zimmer came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs before going down 0-2. He then worked a walk, driving in Encarnacion.
“Yeah, I mean, I tried to get on something early,” Zimmer added. “He made a couple of good pitches and I fouled them off. I just had to battle and find a way. I think that is the best way to describe it – just find a way. It got us back in the ballgame and we kind of took the momentum from there.”