Indians belt four homers, route Oakland 7-3
Tribe bats and Jimenez give team another win
CLEVELAND — There was no shortage of parking in terms of home runs and attendance at Progressive Field on Monday.
Indians bats feasted off Oakland starter Jarrod Parker, sending four solo home runs to the seats in route to a 7-3 victory over the Athletics.
Snapping their six-game winning streak just one day earlier, Cleveland has now won seven of their last eight ballgames, moving back over the .500 mark with a record of 15-14.
The Indians offense was back in full force, scoring seven runs on 10 hits. It was the sixth time in their last seven games the team has scored at last six runs, thanks in large part to the long ball.
It was the Tribe bats that would strike first on back-to-back home runs by infielders Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera in the first inning. For Kipnis, it was his third homer in his last seven games.
“When you drive the ball the other way, that means you’re doing everything right,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of his second baseman. “He’s getting the head of the bat through the zone and that’s a good sign.”
Kipnis is now hitting .290 (9-for-31) over his last seven games with two triples, three homers, eight RBI and seven runs scored.
His double-play partner Cabrera would hit not one, but two solo blasts in the game, ending the night 2-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. Like Kipnis, Cabrera has started to heat up offensively as well, getting at least one hit in 13 of his last 14 games.
"He’s a good player. Just look at the back of his baseball card,” Francona said of Cabrera. “It’s amazing how good players always get to their level. That’s why you don’t move guys around in the order.”
Getting on the board first on Monday, Cleveland is now 12-2 on the season when scoring the game’s first run.
While the Tribe shortstop may have had the biggest night offensively belting two long balls, the longest blast of the night came off the bat of Mark Reynolds. The third baseman sent a 92 MPH fastball by Parker 466 feet to the second last row of the bleachers in left field.
Reynolds would shy away from his monstrous blast after the game.
“They all count. First row or back row,” Reynolds said. “No matter what they’re homers.”
Signing a one-year $6 million deal with the Tribe in the offseason, the right-handed slugger now leads the American League with 10 homers. Reynolds also leads the Indians with 27 RBI, which is 12 more than any other player on the team.
“He continues to take good swings,” Francona said. When he does that, he’s going to hit balls like that. He’s so strong and has tremendous bat speed.”
Landing just to the left of the scoreboard’s Budweiser sign, Reynolds was asked if he thinks he can hit the famous scoreboard target.
“That’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Reynolds said. “I want to keep putting quality at-bats together and give the team a chance to win.
Somewhat overshadowed by the homers was Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The right-hander gave the Indians another solid pitching performance throwing 5 2/3 quality innings to notch his second win of the season. Jimenez (2-2, 6.37 ERA) struck out a season-high eight batters and yielded the A’s to just two runs on four hits on the night.
He made just one big mistake in the ballgame to Atheletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who lined a solo homer to the seats in the fourth inning.
In his last three starts, Jimenez is now 2-0 with a 3.06 ERA where’s he’s walked six and struck out 16 covering 17 2/3 innings.
“He worked ahead against a patient team,” Francona said. ”He threw strike one and stayed within the count all night. His off-speed stuff was tremendous.”
Things got a little dicey for the Tribe in the sixth inning when Francona called on southpaw Nick Hagadone to work out of a bases loaded jam. The left-hander would ultimately silence any thought of a Oakland comeback, striking out struggling Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick to secure the lead and the win for Jimenez.
“He’s my boy,” Jimenez laughed of Hagadone. “He’s picked me up twice now.”
With the team up 4-1 in the seventh inning, designated hitter Jason Giambi put the game away with a two out, two-run single to center field with the bases loaded. It was another quality at-bat for the 42-year old veteran as he worked the count to 3-2 before he delivered the clutch base-hit.
“That’s why he’s here,” Francona said. “The game doesn’t speed up on him. He knows what he has to do. You pull for everybody, but he’s so into it. It’s just a pleasure.”
Right fielder Ryan Raburn continued his hot hitting at the plate as well, adding an RBI double to cap off a three run seventh inning.
Just 9,514 fans in attendance watched Smith give the Tribe another victory, already their fourth in the month of May.
Belting four more homers in the ballgame, Cleveland now leads all of Major League Baseball with 44 home runs as a team.
“That’s not a bad category to lead,” Francona said. “You go through stretches like this and we took advantages of mistakes tonight and hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
“Hitting is contgious,” Reynolds said. “The starters have been going out there getting quality starts so it’s nice that we’ve been able to get them runs early with the long ball.”
Notes: Before Monday’s game, the Indians recalled Hagadone from Triple-A Columbus and placed setup man Vinnie Pestano on the 15-Day DL with a sore right elbow.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Fun game to watch. Too bad only 9,500 people did. The attendance is embarrassing. This team deserves the support of the fans. They probably won't make the playoffs, but they will likely hang around .500 all year, and yet they will be playing to empty crowds, the worst attendance in the majors.
The A's lead the AL in scoring so holding them to two runs over 5 2/3 innings is not bad at all.
Chiz got benched in favor of Giambi against a right-handed starter. Chiz is the only guy not getting into the hit party that's been going on for the last eight games.