Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Indians (26-23) offense is starting to perk up. Over the last 14 games (since May 14), the Tribe is averaging over five runs per game, including 10 on Sunday and five on Memorial Day—both in wins. The team has scored at least four runs in 10-of-14 and at least eight in 5-of-14. The record only being 8-6 in the second half of May has had more to do with problems from the mound as starting pitcher Danny Salazar was demoted to the bullpen after his latest loss on Saturday.
Here’s a few quick notes and clips of some of the Tribe bats from this weekend and their success since May 14, which seems to have been a bit of a turning point on offense.
Jason Kipnis started the season late and started the season slow. He has still been an all-or-nothing type hitter (five multi-hit games, three zero-hit games) and has yet to show the patience at the plate he has had in the past (just four walks during this stretch, six for the year), but his overall line of .328/.369/.639 (four doubles, five home runs) has been a huge boost to what was a struggling offense.
On May 14, manager Terry Francona decided to put Kipnis in the lead off role despite his absolute wretchedness (.155/.176/.183) to that point, and that decision has paid dividends.
Francisco Lindor continues to show off his new power stroke as he has been dubbed the best power hitting shortstop in baseball by The Ringer. Though he rested during the Indians 10-run outburst on Sunday, Lindor has been the catalyst of many other scoring fests as he is batting .288/.351/.538 (four doubles, four home runs) during since May 14, which aligns with his seasonal output of .277/.340/.534 (14 doubles, 11 home runs). The consistent excellence of Lindor has been a sight to behold.
Jose Ramirez was a scorching 6-for-8 over the last two games as everything his bat touched turned to gold—or runs.
His .300/.340/.500 slash over this stretch is impressive. But, like Lindor, it is just J-Ram being J-Ram as he is batting .287/.352/.489 for the season. The seven extra base hits are nice as are the mere three strikeouts over 53 plate appearances. The Indians wealth of youthful talent on the left side of their infield might be the best in baseball.
Michael Brantley went 0-for-5 on May 14, which was the last time he ended a game without a hit. Currently on a 13-game hitting streak, Brantley is .304/.391/.393 during this stretch even accounting for that bump to start. His batting average eeked over .300 this past weekend as it sits at .302 for the year (alongside a tidy .372 OBP). He has not had a huge power stroke in terms of home runs (his last one was on April 30), but five doubles have helped him reclaim his mastery of the outfield gaps.
Edwin Encarnacion’s eight-game hitting streak is not as impressive as what Brantley has going, but the Tribe having the slugger dig himself out of the early season rut might have been the salve the team needed. His .255/.317/.564 slash line doesn’t jump off the page until you do the double-take at the slugging percentage. Yes, Encarnacion has broken out the parrot trot five times in his last 46 at bats! He still has as many strikeouts (14) as hits (14) in the period. But when half of those hits go for extra bases, he is going to help the team score runs.
Carlos Santana has done a mini-version of Encarnacion. He has slashed .245/.322/.491 with the same number of hits (13) as strikeouts (13). Santana has matched Encarnacion in extra base hits (seven) during this stretch though as he has four doubles and three home runs. Having both middle-of-the-lineup guys showing power—such as when they went back-to-back on Monday—will be key over the summer months.
Yan Gomes went through his hot spurt to help keep the offense afloat from mid-April to mid-May (.381/.490/.571 from April 17 to May 13). His bat has since cooled off (.235/.297/.500), but, like Santana and Encarnacion, his value when he has made contact has been good power. Despite only having eight hits, five of them (three doubles and two home runs) have gone for extra base hits as he has continued to hit the ball hard.
The rest of the lineup has done what they have needed to do. Bradley Zimmer’s first MLB call up was on May 16, so his only MLB experience is during this stretch. He has held more than his own going .290/.389/.484 as he is earning more playing time, which will give Francona some decisions to make when Chisenhall returns from the DL. Zimmer’s speed has helped in the field and on the basepaths already. Austin Jackson already has three sacrifice flies in his three games started since returning from the 10-day DL with a toe injury. A-Jax has added a double and home run to the pile as well.