CLEVELAND -- To be the team they want to be, the Cleveland Indians must get production from every part of the lineup, and be the type of squad that never gives opposing pitchers an inning, or for that matter, an at-bat, off.
And the bottom of the order has come through for the Indians as of late, as catcher Roberto Perez drove in a run, got two hits and set the table for the team’s three-run fifth inning in their 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles in Oriole Park at Camden Yards Wednesday night.
“This week, it’s happened more than once,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s gotten some big hits for us. Besides catching and putting up a lot of zeroes, which is more important than anything, we’re a better team when we get contributions all over the map.
“On a night where Edwin (Encarnacion), for the first time in a while, didn’t do anything, other guys did. Zim’s (Bradley Zimmer) getting some hits, and on the bases, he’s doing some things. It’s a good way to play.”
The Indians took a 3-0 advantage with key hits from Perez and shortstop Francisco Lindor in the top of the fifth inning.
Center fielder Bradley Zimmer got the rally started with a one-out single to center on an 0-2 pitch from Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, and Perez followed with an RBI double up the alley in left-center field, which put the Indians in the lead.
Then, on a 2-2 pitch from Gausman, Lindor belted a two-run home run to center field, and his 14th blast of the season gave Cleveland a three-run edge.
“I don’t know what his stats are,” Francona said of Gausman. “I haven’t seen him pitch, but his stuff was filthy, a fastball with velocity, the split was just tremendous.
“Because he was striking so many of us out, the pitch count got up a little bit. Not that he lost his stuff, but they started to come up a little bit. We laid off some of the pitches that earlier in the game, we didn’t, and we started stringing some hits together.”
Lindor made it a 4-0 game when he singled home Zimmer with one out in the top of the ninth inning. Zimmer was on base with a single to right field and moved into scoring position by stealing second base on a 1-0 pitch from Miguel Castro with Perez at the plate.
“He’ll be able to relax a little bit,” Francona said of Lindor. “I know he’s got a couple seasons under his belt and all that, but when you can relax, you’re going to be a better player, a better hitter.”