Through the first two-plus weeks of the regular season, the Cleveland Indians had their share of offensive struggles, but that was the exact opposite of the results they got in the second game of a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (7-7) scored early and scored often on the way to an 11-4 victory over the Twins (7-7) at Target Field in Minneapolis Tuesday night.
“I thought we did a good job of pressuring them pretty much all night,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
“In this ballpark, against this team, they always keep playing and make you uncomfortable, so it was good to get all those tack-on runs, so you could let somebody pitch without having to get the bullpen up every time. That really helped.”
Offensively, the Indians got things rolling when the top of the order came through in the first inning.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor smacked a one-out single to right field and moved into scoring position when left fielder Michael Brantley hit a double to deep right field. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion followed with an RBI groundout that drove in Lindor, but the Indians were not done.
After fouling off five of the last seven pitches he saw from Twins starter Phil Hughes, second baseman Jose Ramirez lifted a fly ball to the warning track in right field. Although it appeared to be the final out of the inning, Twins outfielder Max Kepler dropped the ball, and that allowed Brantley to score from second base.
Then, center fielder Lonnie Chisenhall golfed an ankle-high 1-2 pitch from Hughes through the hole on the right side of the infield and brought around Ramirez for the Indians’ third run of the inning.
Although the Twins responded with a pair of runs off of Indians starter Josh Tomlin in the bottom of the first inning, Cleveland’s offense put more runs on the scoreboard in the top of the third.
Brantley hit a 1-2 pitch from Hughes into right-center field for a single, and after Encarnacion made the second out of the inning, Ramirez belted a two-run home run over the wall in right-center field. His fourth homer of the season gave the Indians a 5-2 lead over the Twins.
“He’s been a blessing,” Francona said of Ramirez. “(From) last year, he’s continuing to get better and he’s a force. He may not look like it in stature, but he’s a force and he’s a good player.”
Encarnacion capped off a strong offensive performance for the Indians with a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning. After Brantley was hit on the right leg, Encarnacion belted the first pitch he saw from Twins reliever Michael Tonkin into the seats in left field.
“I think he can do that,” Francona said of Encarnacion. “I thought it was a good swing. Sometimes, when guys take one swing, things click. Sometimes, they work their way into it, but he’s been swinging better the last three games, a little more aggressive, and when he gets hot, I think our ball club will have another gear, and that will be really good for us.”
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