Hitting is contagious at any level of baseball, and the Cleveland Indians are definitely happy to catch the bug ahead of a six-game road trip against the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.
Before a nearly three-hour flight to Tampa, Florida, the Indians pounded out 15 hits and scored nine runs in a 9-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.
"Team chemistry. One hit led to another, led to another," left fielder Michael Brantley told Sportstime Ohio after the win. "We got a couple big hits, at times, but absolutely, it was a fun day out here at Progressive Field. The fans loved it. We loved it. It's a big win, happy flight."
Six of the Indians' nine batters got hits, and four had at least three hits in the victory.
"We're still inconsistent in some things, but we're doing a lot of things better than we were," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Those two games we lost, we lost late. I think we're playing with a little more confidence, a little more purpose. It's just a little better feel, and I think that's good. Now, we're going on the road. We've got to play well, as we're going to a tough place to play, but it definitely feels better.
"You want to get everybody going, but you can see what a hot bat can do. (Mike) Aviles two nights in a row, Cabby (Asdrubal Cabrera) today. When guys do that, even if it's late or one guy has a couple games or a week like (Ryan) Raburn did last year, it carries a team a couple days or maybe you win a couple games you wouldn't have."
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was one of the Indians who really found his bat during the seven-game home stand.
After struggling through the middle games of the series, Cabrera had six hits in nine at-bats and drove in three runs over the last two games against Minnesota. During those contests, Cabrera raised his batting average by 33 points.
"It means a lot to us," Brantley said. "It means a lot for everybody. He put some good swings on the ball. He was barreling all of those balls. It's not like he's breaking bats and blooping them in. It's fun to watch. It was fun to be a part of today, and we've just got to keep it going."
Francona added, "That shows you how smart I am. I was going to give him the day off. He talked me out of it. He really had a cycle, and I think they took it away. He never broke stride. I'm not sure that's not going to get overturned."
While the bats came around at the end of the series, the Indians' rotation put together six straight quality starts and gave the team a chance to win every game, and they held leads heading into the ninth inning in six of those games.
"Our pitching gave us a chance, every, single game, and that's a good way to play," Francona said. "I think we believe we're going to get that. When you pitch that consistently, you always have a chance to win."
Brantley added, "It's a huge difference. It keeps us in the game. We get back in the dugout quicker. I just think if the ball keeps rolling that way, it's better for our offense. As quickly as we can get in there and keep swinging the bats, (we) keep picking each other up and having fun at the same time."
Justin Masterson earned his second win of the season by scattering four runs, only two of which were earned, and four hits over 6.1 innings of work. He struck out seven Twins hitters, and issued four walks.
"Masty came out in the first four innings and was real crisp and real clean," Francona said. "Then, even when he ran into a couple problems, we kept coming back and answering with another score."