CLEVELAND – Earlier in the season the Indians couldn’t seem to buy a hit.
Now they seem to come in bunches every time they walk onto Progressive Field.
For the 12th straight game Sunday, the club recorded 10 or more hits, and in the process got a solid outing from starter Josh Tomlin in a 9-2 win over the sun struck Los Angeles Angels.
The win puts the Indians at 63-66, while the Angels drop to 65-65. The Indians as of this writing are 4.5 back of the wild card in the American League, and while they have plenty of teams still to pass, they are playing their best ball of the season as the final full month of baseball closes in.
It wasn’t that long ago that it looked like the 2015 club was headed to a last place finish and there was even questions about what was the future for the front office and the coaching staff.
Weeks later, that’s all in the past.
“There’s no getting around it, it was tough, we were spinning our wheels,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We were frustrated, things were not going the way we wanted to.
“The one thing was even when we were frustrated, at least we were fighting to try and figure out why. Not that we always had answers.”
Now having won five straight, 8 of 10 and 14 of 21, it seems like they have found the answers to their questions, and most of it comes from playing young, hungry players who seem more to be putting their stats and egos aside for the sake of winning baseball games.
Sunday’s big hero at the plate was one of the players the team acquired in the trade deadline, that being outfielder Abraham Almonte. With the Indians leading it 2-0 in the fifth and two outs he clubbed his first career grand slam off former Indians killer Jared Weaver to give the Tribe a 6-0 lead.n
“Anytime a player has a chance to help the team in that way it feels good,” Almonte said.
The offense in the Indians last 12 home games, 10 of which have been wins, have outscored (96-43) and out-hit (159-88) opponents by a wide margin.
With the way the team has been playing at home, having 18 home games in the month of September and the first weekend in October should have this team very excited.
Sunday Tomlin got the win to move to 3-1 for the Indians. He worked out of a first inning pickle with a pick-off at first, and settled in to allow just two runs on six hits over 7 innings, striking out a season high eight batters and not allowing a walk.
“I felt like I was locating the ball pretty well, just tried to work them in and out and keep them off balance as best I could,” Tomlin said.
The Indians got some love from Mother Nature on Sunday, as not one but two routine fly outs from Carlos Santana wound up being doubles, with Angels outfielders Mike Trout and Kole Callhoun losing the ball in the sun.
“We’ll take it,” Francona said of the two gifts.
The next big test for the Indians comes on Monday when the team heads North to Toronto to play a Jays team that spent the weekend beating up the Tigers.
“They are obviously a really potent lineup,” Francona said. “I think we are all looking forward to the challenge.”