The Cleveland Indians (39-32) have opened up a 2.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, who continue to lose games as often as the Tribe wins. On Thursday night, the Indians cruised to an easy victory as they took three-of-four from the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3. The Indians won seven-of-eight on their short road trip, and have won eight-of-nine overall. During this stretch, the pitching has held the opponents to three runs or less in all but two contests. The hitters have scored at least five runs in every, single game. The Tribe has out-scored the Dodgers, Twins, and O`s 68 to 23.
One of the pleasant surprises of 2017 for the Indians has been the re-emergence of Austin Jackson. Signed to replace the contributions of Rajai Davis, A-Jax has hit the ball better than any of his seasons since his 2012 break out campaign. His .301/.382/.516 slash has allowed his sapped speed and reduced defense in center field to still earn his nights on the field. He went 3-for-5 on Thursday with two key hits here.
Yan Gomes only had one hit on Thursday, but he made it count by driving in A-Jax after his triple.
Defensive replacement Erik Gonzalez is now batting .314/.333/.514 with two home runs in just 35 at bats. Yes, it is still a crazy small sample size just like it was last year when he hit .313/.353/.313 in just 16 at bats. It is still preferable to have good results in small samples than bad ones though.
Sometimes, it is good to be Edwin Encarnacion. A whoopsie, off the end of the bat contact winds up sailing over the infield and falling in front of the outfielders. One might say that the man is a tad bit strong with some OK speed in that bat.
The Indians return home tonight to take on the reeling Twins followed by the Texas Rangers on the seven-game homestand.