A change in scenery has proven to be effective for the Cleveland Indians to start their seven-game road trip.
After losing seven of their last nine games, six of which were played at Progressive Field, the Tribe was able to pick up right where they left off on Monday to win 11-4 over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. With the victory, manager Terry Francona and company have their first winning streak since the second contest of the campaign.
Twelve mile per hour winds were ideal hitting conditions for the road nine as they tallied 12 hits, two of which were home runs off the bats of Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion.
Tomlin posts quality start
The familiar combination of command and consistency found its way back to Josh Tomlin as he tossed six innings of three-run ball without walking a batter.
“He doesn’t walk people and you can’t run on him,” said Francona to reporters after the game. “He started mixing pitches up, used both sides of the plate (and) used his off-speed.”
Tomlin surrendered two early runs in the first on Max Kepler’s sac fly and Robbie Grossman’s RBI double, but found his groove and retired seven of the last eight opposing batters he faced.
“He really settled down and did a really good job,” Francona said. “He probably could have gone more. I think we just felt like after the last game – where he only threw 40 (pitches) – he was at 85 already, that’s probably plenty.”
Similar to April 15 when Cleveland notched 13 runs vs. Detroit, the bats awoke once more courtesy of two-hit performances from Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Ramirez.
“I thought we did a good job of pressuring them pretty much all night,” said Francona. “It was good to get all those tack-on runs because then you can let somebody pitch without having to get the bullpen up every time, so that really helped.”
Ramirez spearheaded the charge with a two-run homer off Phil Hughes in the top of the third inning to put the Indians ahead 5-2. The barreled ball traveled a distance of 384 feet with a launch angle of 33 degrees.
“He’s been a blessing,” Francona said of Ramirez going 2-for-5 out of the fifth slot in his lineup. “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.”
The Twins bullpen did not fare much better than Hughes as they gave up five combined runs, including a two-run triple to Lindor in the sixth and two-run blast to Encarnacion in the ninth.
“[Encarnacion’s] been swinging better the last three games, a little more aggressive,” said Francona. “When he gets hot, that’s going to – I said it before the game – I think our ballclub will have another gear.”
With the three-hit night, Lindor extended his hitting streak to 12 games, a period in which he is hitting .392 with four home runs and nine RBIs. Ramirez’s stat line is just as impressive with four home runs, a team-leading 15 RBIs and 1.071 OPS.
"I knew he was capable of doing that for a long time," Lindor said of Ramirez's surprising power numbers. "He finally got to where he wanted (to be). Now he's doing it on a big stage. He's secure. It's just a matter of going out there and playing the game the right way."
"You can see it in his face. He's locked in."
Despite getting an encouraging start from Tomlin and two shutout innings of relief from Boone Logan and Nick Goody, the Tribe defense registered their first multi-error game of the year courtesy of Ramirez, Otero and Yandy Diaz, each firing an errant throw. None of the defensive blunders accounted for an unearned run.
Central Division update
Avisail Garcia’s (.440/.481/.680) torrid April continued on Tuesday due to a go-ahead three-run homer to propel the White Sox (7-6) over the New York Yankees.
Michael Fulmer took the hard-fought loss against the Tampa Rays as the Tigers (8-5) offense could only muster one run on four hits.
Kansas City (6-7) fell short in extra-innings thanks to Joe Panik’s RBI single in the top of the 11th to give the San Francisco Giants the 2-1 win.
The Indians have a chance to win their first series since April 5 when they swept the Texas Rangers. First pitch is set for 8:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn.
RHP Trevor Bauer (0-2, 8.44) will look to replicate Tomlin’s bounce back start after allowing 10 earned runs between his first two outings of 2017.
LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-1, 4.05) is slated for his fourth big league appearance (third start) as the fifth hurler in the Minnesota pitching rotation.