Bats blaze as Tribe win streak vs. DET hits 20

August 16th, 2020

Have the Indians finally experienced the breakthrough their offense has desperately been waiting for?

The pressure has been on the Tribe’s starters to be as perfect as possible while the bats struggled mightily since the season got underway. But now, after an 8-5 victory to secure the three-game sweep of the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park, the Indians are hoping some of the weight can be taken off their hurlers’ shoulders.

Everyone knows just how dominant the Indians’ pitching staff has been, but now the club has proven how unstoppable it can be when the offense provides some run support. In games where the Tribe has scored three or more runs this season, it has posted a 10-0 record.

“This whole series was great,” said. “Guys stepped up, great, quality at-bats. And then the series before, everybody’s been putting quality at-bats throughout the last week, week and a half. That’s what got us the win, besides our pitching staff doing outstanding. But passing the baton every day and not waiting for that one guy to step up and do something huge has been extremely fun for all of us.”

Cleveland has taken the past 20 consecutive games from Detroit dating back to April 2019, the second-longest win streak against one opponent in MLB since 1969 and the longest active streak in baseball. The Tribe will need three more wins against the Tigers to tie the O's (1969-70 vs. Kansas City) for the record.

Not only do they have that streak going, the Indians seem to have also hit their stride, winning eight of their past 11 contests. In seven of those victories, the Tribe scored at least three runs. But the most positive sign the club can take away from the sweep in Detroit is that some of its most crucial bats are starting to wake up.

Francisco Lindor
Lindor’s batting average has yet to raise above .250 this season, and the shortstop watched his OPS drop from .783 on Aug. 3 to .617 entering Sunday. But prior to the game, Indians manager Terry Francona said he knew Lindor would soon turn a corner.

“He’s such a good player, he’ll get as hot as he got cold,” Francona said, “and it’ll be fun to watch.”

Lindor answered with his seventh career game with at least three extra-base hits (two doubles and a homer) in the series finale against the Tigers. It was his first three-hit game of the season and his first game with at least three RBIs since Aug. 13, 2019.

“Sometimes, you just need a hit,” Francona said. “It’s different for different people. Sometimes it’s a swing and something will click. Or sometimes, you just need to get rewarded for something. But, boy, it’s nice to see him do that where he sits in the middle of the order.”

Reyes launched three homers over the weekend in Detroit (two on Sunday), including the Indians’ hardest-hit home run in the Statcast era (114.1 mph exit velocity) on his 453-foot long ball in the seventh. It was a distance not even Tigers center fielder JaCoby Jones had ever seen reached.

"Absolutely not,” Jones said. “That was, wow. He is really strong. We need to not throw him a strike, ever."

The Indians dodged a major bullet when postgame X-rays came back negative after Reyes was hit in the left hand by a pitch in the ninth inning and was removed from the game.

“It didn’t hit bone, so I wasn’t that worried,” Reyes said. “It was painful at the beginning, but it’s going away, thank God.”

The team couldn’t have afforded to lose its hottest hitter, as Reyes has 17 hits in his past 33 at-bats (a .515 average) with two doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs.

“Franmil’s been a force,” Francona said.

With ’s unexpected offensive struggles to start his sophomore campaign, the Indians have been pleased with the production they’ve gotten from DeShields. Since he joined the club on Aug. 6, he’s hit .333 with a .788 OPS, including a 2-for-4 showing on Sunday to bring some much-needed life to the bottom of the order.

“He’s doing a really good job,” Francona said. “He’s running stuff down in center. He’s energetic on the bases. As long as he hits the ball to right field and doesn’t try to do too much, he’s going to be just fine.”