CLEVELAND – The Home Run Porch at Progressive Field has taken countless beatings from long balls off the bats of Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana during batting practice and in-game action.
The left field location did not expect Daniel Robertson to attack in the ninth inning on Tuesday night.
Robertson launched his first big league home run off Chris Hatcher, a three-run shot landing smack dab in the middle of the crowded area just in front of the Gateway Plaza.
After spending parts of four seasons in the big leagues, the 31-year-old spark plug finally rounded the bases on his 351st career plate appearance.
“I had no feeling whatsoever,” said Robertson. “I was pumped because we got a little bit of momentum, and when you roll over the top of the order and you have to pitch to Kipnis, Frankie and Brantley, that’s what you’re trying to do.”
With Abraham Almonte (strained right biceps) on the 10-day disabled list, the opportunity to shine on baseball’s biggest stage presented itself in an unexpected fashion for the journeyman.
“You’ve got to prepare and perform,” Robertson said. “I’m here to bring energy, I’m here to bring anything that it takes to win the game no matter what.”
Robertson sports the number 99 and seems to defy odds for every team that gives him a chance at both the collegiate and professional levels. His .367 (11-for-30) batting average against left-handed pitching and superior defense in right field makes him an asset for a team in dire need of a jolt from the bottom of their lineup.
“The game’s been around for 120 years, you feed off each other, and I just think at any moment when someone does something good or gives us a little bit of momentum in the game, your energy level should rise,” said Robertson. “This game is all about momentum, and you’re trying to fire everybody up. I still don’t think it’s any energy thing, I just think it’s playing the game hard and the way it should be played.”
The former 33rd round pick (1005th overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft is now slashing .286/.340/.469 (14-for-49) with one triple, one home run and an .809 OPS, all of which are career-highs. For a shorthanded outfield that spent an extended period without Lonnie Chisenhall (concussion), Austin Jackson (hyperextended left big toe) and Almonte, this charge has proven to be more than just a temporary solution.
“He brings energy, something I think that can help us right now,” manager Terry Francona said.
As Robertson bolted around the base paths and touched home plate, the energy throughout Progressive Field resonated in a sound similar to that of last October.
“I thought it was fun for the fans, and it was fun for us too to be a part of that,” Robertson said. “That’s what this game is all about. That’s what we come to the yard every day for.”
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.