Covering the Bases: Game 48
Indians 8, Royals 5
FIRST: The Lonnie Chisenhall Era might be upon us, Cleveland.
Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan has played great this season, and he’s garnered a bit of a cult following within the fan base, but the reality is he’s hurt, on the disabled list and Chisenhall has a grand opportunity in front of him. As the third baseman of the future, a strong performance in Hannahan’s absence could go a long way in keeping him in the big leagues.
“He feels that he belongs here,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “A lot of us think that he’s pretty close to being an everyday guy up here. It’s just that the situation didn’t arise in Spring Training. As I told him, ‘There’s going to come a point where you’re going to be the everyday guy here.’
“‘Only you can make it happen. Get out there, have some fun, take it one day at a time and maybe you won’t have to come into my office to come and go anymore.”
Last year, the Indians summoned Chisenhall to the big leagues on June 27, when he was hitting just .267 at Triple-A. This season, Chisenhall was called up on Monday, when Hannahan (left calf and back) landed on the 15-day DL. This time around, Lonnie Baseball was hitting .324 with four homers, 12 doubles, 16 runs and 17 RBIs in 28 games at Triple-A.
“Do you know what I’m excited about?” Acta said. “I know it’s only been two months and he spent some time on the DL, but he has gone down there and done what we asked him to do, what we wanted to see. In the past, we have always talked about Lonnie being the future here, but he hasn’t, over the last couple years, gone down and dominated in any league.
“This year, he’s hitting over .320. He’s got a bunch of extra-base hits. His on-base percentage [.353] is up. That’s a good sign. That’s what we wanted to see. It’s not about just talking about potential, but seeing him do some damage. I’ve been excited the whole two months just seeing what he did down there.”
In his first game back with the Indians, the 23-year-old Chisenhall launched a home run on his first swing.
“What a beautiful swing,” Acta said with a smile. “This kid has just got a beautiful swing.”
SECOND: You can make all the jokes you want about the Indians’ lineup right now (And you have. I’ve seen a lot of your wisecracks on Twitter.), but what the offense has done over the past three games has been no laughing matter. Try 21 runs on 32 hits over the past three games without Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner.
“It’s been amazing,” said Indians closer Chris Perez. ”Honestly, you take away any team’s three-four-five hitters and see how many runs they can score.”
And good news is around the bend. Cabrera and Hafner could be back in the lineup within the next couple of days (maybe by Wednesday, but it says here that Thursday might be more realistic). Santana (on the seven-day disabled list) could also be activated by this weekend.
The Indians are just trying to weather the storm, and so far the offense has held up its end of the bargain.
THIRD: The line wasn’t exactly pristine for right-hander Josh Tomlin, but I didn’t think it was all that bad under the circumstances. Making his first start since May 7 (due to a stay on the disabled list with a right wrist injury), Tomlin held Kansas City to four runs on four hits in five innings. He was working on a limited pitch count and kept Cleveland in the game. It was a good step forward for one of the important pieces within the Tribe’s rotation.
HOME: Perez notched his 17th save of the season with a clean ninth inning. He has a save in each of the past five home wins for the Tribe, and one in each of the four home games since The Comments Heard ‘Round Cleveland.
“With all the crap I’ve been talking, I’ve got to back it up,” Perez said with a laugh.
For those who asked via Twitter, yes, Perez did do John Cena’s “You can’t see me” move after striking out Jarrod Dyson for the second inning in the ninth. Alas, Perez declined to discuss the gesture, or his reasoning behind it. Maybe Perez was just amped up. They don’t call him Pure Rage for nothing.
The Royals do have small bit of history with Perez, who drew a fine from Major League Baseball after he called out Kansas City in a postgame tweet after the clubs had a bench-clearing incident on April 14.
Perez has backed up all his actions and comments, though. Dating back to April 7, the closer has 17 saves in 17 chances with a 1.37 ERA (19.2 IP/3 ER), a .151 opponents’ average (11-for-73) and 20 strikeouts against five walks over 21 appearances in that span.
That Opening Day blown save seems like ancient history.
Royals (19-28) at Indians (27-21)
at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Progressive Field