CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Write it down. On October 6th, the Indians were elim- alright, maybe not.
The AL Central champions suffered another potentially crippling injury in Game 2 of the ALDS, with Edwin Encarnacion leaving in the bottom of the 1st inning, and reportedly leaving Progressive Field on crutches.
Though losing their top run producer presented a difficult emotional hill, the game was by no means over. When the New York Yankees opened an 8-3 lead in the top of the 5th inning, the story got a little more complicated.
Luckily, Terry Francona had the perfect emotional and physical sparkplug at his disposal: Francisco Lindor.
“I mean, one thing I said to him, when Edwin went down, I said, hey, we can’t act like we got hit in the stomach and got the wind knocked out of us,” Francona said. “I said keep him going. And he certainly does that. He’s wise beyond his years.”
The 23-year old shortstop had already taken his place as the team’s emotional leader not long after he was summoned from Triple-A Columbus in 2015, but he may not have ever been needed as much as he was Friday night.
The Indians bats fell silent after starter Corey Kluber was knocked out of the game in the 3rd, minutes after the Indians had taken back the lead in the bottom of the 2nd.
After nine straight hitters were retired by former Indians ace CC Sabathia, Carlos Santana walked and eventual game winner Yan Gomes doubled to start a two-out rally. When pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was sent to first base on a hit-by-pitch call that proved incorrect, Lindor put his team right back in the game with a grand slam off of the right field foul pole.
The ball looked to be tailing foul before striking the yellow structure and culminating Lindor’s emotional rally which led to a crucial rally in-game.
“I started blowing on it a little bit,” Lindor joked. “As soon as it went out, it was just a lot of emotions because, at the end of the day, all I want to do is just give my team a chance to win.
Lindor described himself as ‘a happy little kid’ that was always ‘bouncing around’ in the dugout while talking to himself.
The two-time All-Star gave credit to his manager for letting him be who he is.
“He has allowed me to be Francisco Lindor since day one,” the shortstop said. “I’m usually the little kid that runs around all excited that he’s just in the big leagues playing the game of baseball. That’s probably why he said that.
“I just — you know, I’m just happy — we’re all happy to be here, but I show it a little bit more than some of the guys. And just continue to tell guys to just enjoy it. We’re blessed to be here. Enjoy this opportunity that we have in front of our feet. Don’t take it for granted and just give yourself a chance to win. Whatever happens, we’ll see.”
As for Encarnacion’s health, Francona said the slugger underwent an MRI which showed an obvious ankle sprain. The severity of the injury was still to be determined and the response to it would be largely predicated on how Encarnacion feels on Saturday in New York.
Gomes said he spoke to Encarnacion postgame, who said he was ‘fine.’
Encarnacion is currently day-to-day.