The Cleveland Indians enter their second series of the 2017 regular season with a 3-0 record after a sweep of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park, their first sweep in Arlington since 2008.
Prior to the Indians’ return to Arizona for a three-game weekend set with the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, there were several things this team showed against the Rangers, and here is a look at what we learned from the opening series of the season.
MOTIVATED LINDOR GOOD FOR INDIANS
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor was visibly upset with himself for committing an error that led to a three-run fifth inning for the Rangers, but he had quite the response, as he belted home runs in his final two at-bats, including the game-winning grand slam in the top of the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 9-6 win.
Earlier in the game, Lindor fielded a ground ball and hustled toward second base for the final out of the inning. However, Joey Gallo hustled his way from first and beat Lindor to the bag. Then, Lindor tried to fire a throw to first base, but Edwin Encarnacion was off the bag and did not get his foot on the base in time for the final out of the frame.
Then, Texas outfielder Nomar Mazara brought around the third run of the inning when he singled home former Indian Shin-Soo Choo on a hit to center field.
Down by a 5-3 count after the Rangers’ big inning, the Indians got a run back in the top of the sixth when Lindor drilled a one-out solo home run to left field. Then, in the ninth inning, Lindor smashed the 1-1 offering from Rangers closer Sam Dyson inside the foul pole for his first career Major League grand slam.
SANTANA THRIVES IN LEADOFF SPOT
While in spring training, the Indians were not sure what they were going to do with the leadoff spot despite Carlos Santana’s successes in the No. 1 slot in the lineup 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 five hits in 12 at-bats through three games, including a pair of doubles with one home run and three walks. In addition to his .417 batting average, Santana has a .533 on-base percentage and a .833 slugging percentage for the Indians.
CARRASCO WILL BE JUST FINE
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco had not pitched in a regular-season game since September 17, 2016 because of a broken bone in his right hand suffered in the first inning of a start against the Detroit Tigers, but nearly six months after the injury, he was back on the mound.
Carrasco allowed just four hits and two earned runs over 5.2 innings of work against the Rangers, and his location and secondary pitches kept the high-powered offense at bay long enough for the bullpen to come in and finish off a 4-3 win Tuesday night.
Despite pitching into the sixth inning, Carrasco was remarkably efficient, throwing just 78 pitches, 53 of which went for strikes, and that ability to locate the strike zone while avoiding the barrel of the opponents’ bats resulted in seven strikeouts and only one walk.
INDIANS ARE MORE THAN OFFENSE AND PITCHING
The Indians’ defensive prowess started early when on the first pitch of the game from Carrasco, Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez roped a line drive into the right field corner. However, Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer got a good read on the baseball and laid out for the diving catch.
Then, in the bottom of the third inning, the Rangers had Choo on first base after smacking a single to shallow left field, when Mazara smashed a base hit into right.
Although Guyer initially bobbled the baseball, he picked it up and rifled a throw to Lindor, who was covering second base. Guyer’s throw beat Mazara by enough time for Lindor to make the catch and apply the tag for the out.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and Andrew Miller on the mound, Gomez hit a pop fly into short right field. Second baseman Jose Ramirez sprinted from the infield and extended his glove to make the catch on a dead run for the second out of the inning.
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