CLEVELAND – The Indians have found themselves in a demoralized state over the course of June thanks to many instances of inconsistent play and a 4-7 record for a month that proved to be the turning point in 2016.
Thursday afternoon loosened the frustration and kept the club above .500, a mark they have been able to maintain for all but nine of their 62 games this season.
Cleveland registered four crooked numbers of offense to salvage a series sweep and roll to a 12-5 rout of the Dodgers at Progressive Field.
Josh Tomlin earned the win despite a run-of-the-mill outing courtesy of Lonnie Chisenhall’s five RBIs off the bench and multi-hit performances from Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion.
Hill unable to limit early traffic
Right from the outset, the Tribe scored with a vengeance by tallying five runs on seven hits off Rich Hill in the first two frames alone. Ramirez fronted the charge on an RBI single and RBI double before Encarnacion launched a ball to the back of the Home Run Porch for a solo blast, his 13th of the year.
“We got the first run quick,” manager Terry Francona said. “We got three (runs), but we got [Hill’s] pitch count so high. I think we had him up over 60 after two (innings).”
“We took our walks. We laid off the breaking ball that can be so devastating.”
Hill’s departure led to another batch of explosive offense when Chisenhall cranked a pinch-hit, three-run bomb vs. Ross Stripling in the fifth.
“There’s no such thing as an off-day,” said Chisenhall of his omission from the starting lineup. “Being on the bench, Tito looks for good situations to get you in the game. It’s the bottom of the fifth right there. You got to be on your toes. Make sure you’re ready. Our guys do a good job of that.”
Chisenhall furthered the onslaught one inning later, lining a two-run single and eventually scoring on Roberto Perez’s base knock up the middle.
“I thought we played with a ton of energy today, because it was a real quick turnaround,” Francona said. “Today, we just had such a different lineup.”
Erik Gonzalez put the cherry on top of the one-sided affair by hitting his first career home run.
“You could see him smiling from ear-to-ear when he was going past second base,” said Francona. “That was fun to see.”
Tomlin gives up two homers; bullpen keeps lead intact
A fine day from the bats was enough to pick up Tomlin and the four runs charged to his five-inning ledger. The veteran righty surrendered a pair of round trippers to Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, ballooning his previous home run rate (1.23 HR/9) even higher.
“I felt pretty good,” Tomlin said. “I thought there was a little bit of work today. Those guys made you get in the zone. A lot of 3-2, 2-2 counts. It was a pretty tough day. At the end of the day, they won. We were able to keep the team in the game long enough for our offense to explode and they did a great job.”
Kyle Crockett allowed one run, but scoreless efforts from Nick Goody, Bryan Shaw and Zach McAllister paved way to a convincing finish in front of 23,339 fans.
“You never want to give up the lead,” said Tomlin. “At that point, it was just stop the bleeding now, get back in there, let the offense get back in there and do what they’ve been doing.”
“Our bullpen came after that and did a great job.”
Central Division update
The Twins (34-29) beat the Mariners to keep pace atop the divisional ladder.
The Indians will travel to Minnesota and take on the first-place Twins on Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET from Target Field.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 3.36) seems to be back on track with two of his last three appearances ending in victorious fashion. The Venezuelan native is throwing his four-seam fastball at a 94.06-mph clip, well above the big league average of 92.98-mph.
LHP Nik Turley (0-1, 9.00) is officially in line for his second major league start after allowing four runs on eight hits last Sunday in San Francisco. The 27-year-old southpaw was a 50th round draft pick out of high school in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
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.