After a slow start to the season, Nick Swisher has found his swing as of late.
CLEVELAND -- For the better part of the first half of the 2014 regular season, Cleveland Indians first baseman/designated hitter Nick Swisher was hitting below "The Mendoza Line" of .200, but as of late, he is seeing, and hitting, the ball on a more consistent basis.
Starting with a 5-3 Indians win over the New York Yankees at Progressive Field two weeks ago, Swisher belted a two-run home run to the opposite field that put the Tribe in front of the Bronx Bombers for good.
Swisher's home run in that Tuesday win was his second in as many days against his former team, and seventh of the season. Swisher now has eight home runs, six have either been game-winners or put the Indians in front of the opposition.
"I've said it a number of times, when guys hit the ball the other way with authority, it helps that they get rewarded for it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You can hit a ball to the opposite field, and if it gets caught, it's still a good swing, but it's hard for guys to register that that's perfect. When they get rewarded for it, they're doing everything right.
"For Swish to hit a ball that far to the opposite field, everything's got to be going perfect, balance, weight shift, swing path. More often than not, when you're doing that, you're able to adjust and hit the ball in because you're on balance."
Earlier in the year, Swisher belted a walk-off grand slam against the Los Angeles Angels that turned what could have been a 3-1 loss into a 5-3 victory.
"I think there's more signs that he's becoming certainly more dangerous at the plate, which is good," Francona said. "He's influenced quite a few games with one swing, which is great.
"I still think he's searching a little bit, where he'll swing at some off-speed pitches, swing over them and have strikeouts, but to his credit, regardless of what at-bat it is in the game, or what he's done up to that point, he can change the game with one swing, and he knows that, and he's done that quite a few times."
Swisher has hit safely in seven of his last 10 games, and his increase in production comes at a time when the Indians' hottest hitter of the first half, Lonnie Chisenhall, has only one hit in his last nine at-bats.
Earlier in the year, Chisenhall was hitting in the high .370s.
"I don't know how realistic that was," Francona said. "Over the course of a season, guys somewhat even out. Other than that, he had a great at-bat last night. (Yankees reliever Matt) Thornton was throwing 98, 97. Lonnie, I think he had 12, 13 pitches maybe. He pulled a ball foul. That was a tremendous at-bat, so Lonnie is fine. He just may not hit .390."