CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – If not derailed by a mystery concussion suffered somewhere along the way in Houston, Lonnie Chisenhall could be deeper in a career year.
The seven-year veteran is still having the best campaign of his career through 40 games, boasting career highs in slugging percentage (.557), wOBA (.363) and wRC+ (126) to this point. The power numbers are most surprising, already tying his total last year with a pinch hit three-run game decider.
The 28-year old hammered more nails into the coffin with a two-run single in the 6th, becoming the third Indians sub in the team’s history to drive in five or more runs, joining John Ellis (6) on 9/15/1973 and Chuck Essegian (5) on 6/11/1961.
It was Chisenhall’s 11th pinch-hit appearance of the season, and the second time he has won a game with a three-run shot, proving he has the mental capability for the job.
“It’s an adrenaline rush going up there, especially it’s always a crunch-time situation, so you want to go up there and make sure you’re taking hacks that are going to help the team,” he said. “It’s more of a mindset than getting your body ready, so the only way to learn how to do it is to do it a lot.”
Every AB Edwin
The diesel engine that is Edwin Encarncion has officially heated up, if it had not already. The big-time free agent signee reached base in all of his five plate appearances on Thursday, extending that streak to six total appearances dating back to Wednesday.
Included in Thursday’s performance was the right-hander’s team-leading 13th home run.
After his batting average hit .198 on May 20, Encarnacion is 24-for-67 (.343) with four doubles, five homers and 11 RBI. In that stretch, the slugger’s OPS is 1.032 with a wOBA of .433 and a wRC+ of 174.
“He’s starting to look a lot like himself,” Manager Terry Francona said. “He’s taking a lot of good swings. For a while there, he was in between with the breaking ball, fastball. You might get a fastball by him, but he’s taken so many good swings that he kind of swung himself into feeling good.
“We got a lot of baseball coming up. If he can stay hot, get real hot, that would certainly help us.”
The big day almost did not happen for Chisenhall, and it almost ended up in a sacrifice bunt, as Francona and bench coach Brad Mills were mulling leaving Austin Jackson in the game.
“They had just fought back and you could kind of feel some of the momentum there. We’re going back and forth, Millsy and I, watching the inning unfold,” Francona said. “You want to tack on, but then we’re bunting for the bottom of the order. I think Millsy kind of pushed me in that direction. Boy, Lonnie took a beautiful swing.”
Michael Brantley was absent from the lineup Thursday, making it an assumed day off with an upcoming flight to Minnesota later in the day.
It turns out Brantley will miss the entire weekend series in Minnesota as his wife Melissa is scheduled to give birth.
“He had tried to line it up where she was going to, whatever, at 4:30, induce, but last night, in the middle of the night, things started happening,” Francona said. “He texted me. I told him, ‘Get over there with here.’ You never want to miss something like that or even go bat here and then run over there. My goodness. He kind of deserves the right to be with his family and do that. We’ll miss him for the weekend.”
Adding for Brantley will be another move the team will have to make with a doubleheader upcoming on Saturday.
Starter Ryan Merritt is scheduled to be added as the 26th man for that game, while Mike Clevinger will also be added for a start. The latter will most likely involve a pitching demotion, and a bat being added to replace Brantley on the bench.