CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – What a difference a day can make.
After a loathsome series offensively against the Minnesota Twins in which the Cleveland Indians (40-35) went 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position, some writers sought out the team’s failures in important situations. Those numbers came back incredibly negative.
On Monday, the script was flipped as the worst team in baseball in the clutch turned in an 11-for-28 night with RISP en route to scoring 13 unanswered runs and erasing a 7-run deficit.
“This is the best win of the year, I think, especially coming back early, showing that fight, chipping away, chipping away, breaking through,” outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall said. “That’s a byproduct of what we did in the box.”
What Chisenhall did in the box was turn in a 3-for-5 night with three RBI, including a 2-run go-ahead single in the 6th that proved to be the game winner.
None of Chisenhall’s hits left the yard, something that could be said for the rest of the team. Of their 19 hits, none of them were home runs, with five doubles being the headliner.
That was the beauty of it.
For a team that has been so reliant on the long ball all season, to be able to score 15 runs without so much as a solo shot showed a slumping offense what they are capable of. For all nine hitters in the Indians lineup to have a hit and reach base at least twice proved that they do not need to rely on one man.
“There’s no doubt that when you’re able to do this, you know you can do it,” bench coach Brad Mills said postgame, filling in for Manager Terry Francona. “In a situation like this when you’re down 9 to 2, to see the guys be able to do it and now they know they can do it. There hasn’t been a whole lot of times where we have done that. It was nice to be able to come back, like they did.”
Five Indians players produced more than one run batted in, with three hitters driving in three. Seven of the nine had multiple hits, including Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez turning in three hits.
“Anytime you can show that — in a win, in a loss — that’s a plus,” Chisenhall said. “It stemmed from guys having good at-bats. Things as small as infield singles that turn into bases-loaded stuff, where you’re putting pressure on the defense and the pitcher. It was just fun to be a part of.”
It became apparent when the team was able to get contributions from everyone, with clutch hits to RBI groundouts and sacrifice flies, that the team was getting quality at-bats at every turn.
Over eight innings and 48 plate appearances, the team compiled 11 at-bats in which they saw 3-0 counts.
“Yeah I think the last series, we had a rough series, maybe everyone was sitting back, waiting for someone to get a big hit instead of taking the initiative and saying, ‘I’m going to get it done,’” rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer said. “I think that goes to show tonight what we did. Everyone went up there and had quality at-bats and wanted to be that guy and everyone did their part.”
What may have been lost in the heroic offense was the quality of the bullpen. On a night where Carlos Carrasco gave up an uncharacteristic eight runs over just 3 1/3 innings, the bullpen held the Rangers to two hits in the final five innings, striking out nine and walking two.
“I think coming off the type of series we just came off of, any win would be a good win,” reliever Bryan Shaw said after picking up the win. “But for us to come out today and come back the way we did just shows the heart, the drive that we have to win. It was kind of a down series for us the last couple days. We’re going to hopefully continue to do what we’re doing.”