While in spring training, the Cleveland Indians were not sure what they were going to do with the leadoff spot despite Carlos Santana’s successes in the No. 1 spot in the batting order for much of the 2016 season, but keeping things the same has proven very good for the team in the early going of 2017.
Santana has four hits in eight at-bats through two games, including a pair of doubles with one home run and two walks. In addition to his .500 batting average, Santana has a .600 on-base percentage and a 1.125 slugging percentage for the Indians, who are 2-0 after taking two games from the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
“That’s kind of everything we said,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “When eight and nine are on or coming around to the top of the order, he’s a guy that’s in the middle.
“He’s a switch hitter. It’s a luxury, I think, and I think he actually likes hitting up there because he gets that extra at-bat a lot of games. It looks like he’s swinging the bat real well. It’s nice to see some guys coming out of the chute swinging the bat okay.”
The Indians literally came out swinging against the Rangers and took a lead with just one swing of the bat in the top of the first inning when Santana smacked a 2-1 pitch from Rangers starter Martin Perez over the wall in right-center field for his first home run of the season.
“That always helps,” outfielder Brandon Guyer said. “I’m sure Carrasco loved that too, so we’ll take that any day.”
In the next trip to the plate, the Indians built upon their lead when outfielder Austin Jackson drove in Guyer with an RBI single to shallow center. Santana followed with another single to center field that drove in catcher Yan Gomes, which gave the Indians a 3-0 lead over the Rangers.
Guyer began the rally with a one-out single to center field, and Gomes drew a walk after starting the at-bat in an 0-2 hole. All of the Indians’ runs in the second inning came with two outs.
“It’s huge, especially the way he’s swinging it, the way he ended the year last year,” Guyer said of Santana setting the table for the Indians.
“He’s a power threat, but also, a guy that can get on base a lot too. He might not be your prototypical leadoff hitter, but I don’t really think it matters about speed. It’s just about getting on base, doing damage and he does that.
“We just had good at-bats. It wasn’t anything about playing like that, but guys just put together good at-bats and that’s how it was.”
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