Franmil’s 5-RBI day not enough to snap skid

July 6th, 2021

In his last game before heading to the injured list on May 22, Franmil Reyes hit a towering, go-ahead home run. Monday marked Reyes’s third game since returning from the IL, and he reminded the Indians what they’ve been missing by going yard again.

Reyes rocketed a game-tying homer in the Indians’ eventual 9-8 loss at Tropicana Field as part of a 3-for-5 performance with five RBIs, matching a career high. Cleveland extended its season-worst losing streak to seven games with a blown save from Emmanuel Clase, who allowed four baserunners and a pair of runs at Tropicana Field in the ninth. Still, Reyes was at the heart of a big offensive night for Cleveland from the heart of its order.

Facing an early four-run deficit, thanks to an grand slam in the second inning from the Rays, the Indians got on the board with an RBI single from Reyes in the fourth inning. They had three run-scoring hits in the fifth, the last of which was a 419-foot laser from Reyes that dented a stadium sign beyond the right-center wall.

As he explained his logic for hunting a fastball in that fifth-inning at-bat, it was obvious how locked in Reyes feels, merely a few days since returning to the Majors. 

“They were pounding me with pitches away, and I just got prepared for a pitch,” he said. “When I’m looking for those pitches away, I know if the slider starts a little bit out of the plate, it’s gonna be a ball. So I just forgot about the slider and just [focused] on the fastball.” 

In the sixth, Reyes drove another outside pitch to right-center, this time ricocheting it off the wall for a two-out, two-run double. After just one hit in their first three innings, the Indians collected nine hits across the next three. And for a team going through a 1-9 skid -- its worst stretch of the year -- it says something that the early deficit didn’t bury them. 

“They keep playing,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You find out a lot about people through adversity. This is a difficult stretch for us, there’s no getting around it. But nobody’s running and hiding.” 

One of the key players who can help them work through the adversity is Reyes, whose powerful bat has been held out of the lineup for nearly half the season due to an oblique strain. 

He took a full month off from playing games before starting a two-part rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron. In just 19 Minor League at-bats, he collected seven hits, including three homers -- a telling prelude for his 6-for-14 start in July. 

“He obviously worked pretty hard getting ready, because his timing looks really good,” Francona said. “When he’s a threat like that, that’s really good for us.”

More sparks from Reyes might be needed to end this rut for Cleveland, which has been primarily caused by two things: shaky starting pitching and a lack of offense with runners on base. The starting pitching did not improve Monday -- Logan Allen ballooned his ERA to 9.13 with five runs allowed -- but the clutch hitting did. After going 4-for-38 (.105) with runners in scoring position in their past six games, the Indians had four hits with runners in scoring position in this game alone, and two of those belonged to Reyes.

The Indians were a half-inning from victory, but Clase was unable to record an out in the ninth. He allowed a game-tying single to Wander Franco, then issued an intentional walk to load the bases. Yandy Díaz came up next, and his grounder fell deep enough into right field to score the runner from third.

Clase, who threw 22 pitches in a 10-inning defeat against the Astros on Sunday, took the loss for the second consecutive night. Not that he’s entirely at fault, though, in the same way Reyes cannot will the Indians to victory alone. Game results apply to the team as a whole, and right now, those results aren’t good enough. But the belief remains that that’ll change.

“If we can get into this jam together, we’re gonna figure it out together,” Francona said.