CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians scored just two runs over the first two games of their interleague series against the San Diego Padres at Progressive Field this week, but that was far from the case in the finale on Thursday night.
For the second straight game, the Indians (45-39) pounded out 14 hits, but this time around, they got four in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and that level of productivity led to an 11-2 victory over the Padres (36-49).
“The approach,” Indians interim manager Brad Mills said. “I know the hitting coach has been talking to them a little bit about their approach, looking at things, but that was probably the biggest thing. Go ahead and take the hits to the opposite field. Don’t just try to pull everything.
“We pulled some balls, but we should’ve had some hits to the opposite field. The way they stayed on the ball, they hadn’t done that in a while. Even though we had 14 hits last night and 14 hits tonight, the approach with runners on and in scoring position was pretty nice.”
Cleveland Indians change approach at the plate to solid results
The Indians added two runs onto their advantage in the bottom of the third inning.
Designated hitter Michael Brantley initiated the rally with a five-pitch walk, and he moved into scoring position when first baseman Edwin Encarnacion hit a single to left field. Then, third baseman Jose Ramirez loaded the bases when he reached on an error charged to the pitcher.
Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, and after left fielder Abraham Almonte walked on five pitches, center fielder Bradley Zimmer lifted a sacrifice fly of his own to left, which scored Encarnacion.
After San Diego plated a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning, the Indians had a response in the form of a first-pitch lead-off homer from Encarnacion in the bottom of the frame. Encarnacion crushed a belt-high pitch over the wall and very nearly into the visiting bullpen for his first round-tripper since June 20.
“It’s good to see him have the night that he had,” Mills said. “What? Three of his hits were going the other way, and then, he was able to get that home run that was on the right side, but just the way his approach was all night long, he was able to square some balls up doing that. That was sure nice to see.”
In addition to Encarnacion, who plated a pair of runs, the Indians got production from plenty of other sources, including outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who drove in three runners with a double and sacrifice fly.
Also, the Indians got a solo home run from catcher Yan Gomes, who now has three extra-base hits in his last five games.
“The hard contact was good,” Mills said of Gomes. “We talked about everybody’s approach, but his approach, he was much softer with how he was going about it, swinging the bat much better. He was able to really put some good swings on the ball. He needed that for his confidence, obviously, and it was a nice approach that he had.”