Rolling into Minnesota for the first time this season, the Indians came away with a three-game sweep of the Twin after dropping the team’s last three series.
Starting the series in last place in the American League Central, although it’s early, the Indians now find themselves tied for first along with Detroit after taking three on the road from the Twins. The win also is the longest streak since the Indians swept Texas to start the season.
Aging like Fine Wine– Falling behind in two of the three games in the Twin City, the Indians did their best work offensively past the sixth inning in all three games. Spring nine runs in the sixth inning or later, Cleveland abused the Twins’ bullpen while their bullpen was locked down and allowed just one run past the sixth. Getting some much needed insurance runs on Tuesday and Thursday, Cody Allen wasn’t eligible to earn a save, though he looked sharp.
Avoiding the Big Inning and Providing Support- Coming into the series, the Indians’ starting pitching was a sour note with the end of the rotation struggling to go deep into games and relying on the bullpen for a fighting chance. All three Cleveland starters, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer, pitched at least 6.0 innings (with Bauer going 6.1) and earning the win along the way. Each pitcher also let one inning get away from them with pitchers warming in the pen, but stayed the course and battled back to stay in the game. A big positive sign in the early season, the Indians’ pitchers have proven that once the game is in the bullpen’s hands, a lead is safe.
Bottom of the Order Performing- On Thursday’s matinée, the back end of the Tribe’s order came to life and was rewarded for it. Both Yandy Diaz and Abraham Almonte had nice days at the plate and were rewarded for it thanks to a big day by Carlos Santana. Going 3-5 on the day with a pair of doubles that scored Diaz and Almonte, Santana brought the Indians back into the game to score the team’s first two runs after being down 2-0. With nearly every one in an Indians’ uniform getting in on the fun, Yan Gomez had a nice day coming in after Bauer’s day ended and hit an RBI double while Lonnie Chisenhall added onto his hot start with an RBI double in the ninth to help seal the deal.
Edwin Overcoming Slow Start- Causing a lot of (unwarranted) concern at the start of the season, Edwin Encarnacion is starting to make his mark for the Indians. Homering in Tuesday night’s game, Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to six games and has cut down on strikeouts. Going 1-3 on Thursday with a pair of walks, Encarnacion’s at bats have taken a turn for the dangerous as the Indians’ lineup looks more and more dangerous.
Leg Two of the Road Trip– Headed to the south side of Chicago, the Indians will look for some revenge against the White Sox at their place. Carrying the three-game winning streak, the Indians will welcome an important piece as Jason Kipnis is expected to join the club in his home town. This move means someone will have to exit and the odd man out appears to be the hard-hitting Yandy Diaz. While Diaz has been an asset to the team early on, the big man will get some much needed at-bats down in Columbus and wait for hit call up 71. At 7-7, the White Sox are returning home after dropping two of three to the red-hot Yankees and have struggled since taking a series from the Tribe.