The long ball was very good to the Cleveland Indians against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston Friday night.
After suffering through an offensive drought for much of their latest homestand, the Indians (21-19) started the five-game road trip with three home runs, which propelled them to a 5-3 victory over the Astros (29-13), who started the day with the best record in baseball.
The Indians evened the score at 2-2 when designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion crushed a two-run home run to left field in the top of the fourth inning.
After first baseman Carlos Santana led off the frame with a four-pitch walk, Encarnacion twice fouled off pitches from Morton to stay alive, and then, belted his seventh home run of the season over the wall, but that was far from the last long ball from the Indians.
In the top of the fifth inning, second baseman Jason Kipnis led off with a home run off of Morton, and it looked as though the Indians might get more when Lindor doubled to left field on the first pitch he saw. However, on Santana’s double to left field, shortstop Francisco Lindor was thrown out at home on a runner’s fielder’s choice.
With one out in the top of the sixth inning, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall smoked an 0-2 pitch from Morton over the wall in right field for his fifth round-tripper of the season.
In the eighth inning, Chisenhall drove in third baseman Jose Ramirez with an RBI sacrifice fly.
The Indians had a chance to get on the scoreboard before the Astros even had their first at-bat, but a base-running miscue cost them the opportunity to bring a run across the plate.
With a 1-1 count and one out in the top of the first, Lindor was hit by a pitch from Astros starter Charlie Morton. However, before Indians left fielder Michael Brantley even got the bat off his shoulder, Lindor was picked off at first base. Brantley later doubled to deep right field.
The Astros took advantage of the miscue and gained the early lead with a two-out rally.
After center fielder George Springer and right fielder Josh Reddick struck out looking and swinging, respectively, second baseman Jose Altuve smacked a single to right-center field. Altuve moved into scoring position when shortstop Carlos Correa drew a walk on just five pitches.
Down in the count, 0-2, at one point, designated hitter Carlos Beltran fought his way into the at-bat and drove in Altuve with an RBI single to center field.
The Indians threatened in the top of the third inning by getting two runners on base with two outs after Kipnis singled to left-center field and Lindor reached on an error from Altuve, but Brantley grounded out to second to end the frame.
And once again, when the Indians failed to push a run across, the Astros responded with one of their own.
With two strikes on him from Indians starter Trevor Bauer, Reddick smashed a lead-off solo home run over the wall in right field.