CLEVELAND -- Circumstances have brought Greg Allen and Yandy Diaz back from the Minor Leagues and thrust them into the thick of the postseason chase for the Indians. Expected or not, Cleveland has asked them to focus on contributing to wins, not only on development.
On Monday night, Allen and Diaz played a key role in lighting the spark on a seven-run outburst in the sixth, helping propel the Tribe to a 10-3 rout of the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Combined with another big night from Jose Ramirez, who belted his 35th homer of the year, the American League Central-leading Indians picked up their eighth win in 10 games.
"It makes it fun," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Allen and Diaz. "With youth comes some enthusiasm and every once in a while an error in judgement, but that's OK, as long as it's youthful and they listen. … You see guys getting better at this level. It's exciting."
Allen was summoned from Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, when center fielder Leonys Martin landed on the disabled list in light of a serious bacterial infection that landed him in the Cleveland Clinic. Martin is currently in stable condition. Diaz was recalled from Columbus on Sunday morning after slugger Edwin Encarnacion (right hand) was also placed on the DL.
With one out in the sixth and the game locked in a 2-2 tie, Allen got things started with a single to left field off Reds righty Homer Bailey. Francona then turned to Diaz as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Mike Clevinger. Diaz worked the count full and then ripped a pitch off the wall in left-center field at 109.3 mph, per Statcast™.
"In that moment, I'm just going up there trying to put a good swing on a good pitch," Diaz said via team interpreter Will Clements. "You're really just going up there to try to get a hit. That's really all that's on my mind when I'm going to the plate."
The RBI double by Diaz gave the Tribe a 3-2 lead and improved his season average to .550 (11-for-20) through his six games in MLB this season. It also kicked open the door on a big inning for Cleveland (67-51).
Cincinnati reliever Amir Garrett inherited a two-on, one-out jam and then allowed an RBI double to Michael Brantley. The Reds' lefty loaded the bases with two outs with an intentional walk to Ramirez, but then gave up consecutive two-run hits to Melky Cabrera (single) and Jason Kipnis (double). Yan Gomes capped off the frame with an RBI single.
"With two outs, we really had some good at-bats," Francona said. "Brantley had a good at-bat before that. But then after that, we took some good swings and got five runs with two outs. That was huge."
Ramirez added an RBI knock in the seventh inning to push the Tribe's run total into double digits for the 15th time this season (tied with the Red Sox and Cubs for the most in the Majors). The Indians are also tied for the MLB lead with five innings consisting of at least seven runs this year. The Astros and Cubs have also achieved that feat.
That was more than sufficient in supporting Clevinger, who sidestepped the potential harm of the six walks issued and five hits allowed in his five innings. The righty surrendered two runs on a solo home run apiece by Tucker Barnhart and Scooter Gennett.
In Francona's eyes, the game's turning point was Diaz's pinch-hit double.
"He's such an advanced hitter, polished hitter, however you want to say it," Francona said. "For a kid that doesn't have a lot of Major League at-bats, it's a heck of an at-bat. You look at the score at the end of the game, that wasn't how the majority of the game was played."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Traffic jam: The Reds loaded the bases with two outs against Clevinger in each of the third and fourth innings, but came away empty-handed. In the third, the Tribe starter escaped with a strikeout of Mason Williams, who was rung up by third-base umpire Chad Whitson after trying to check his swing.
One inning later, Clevinger made a diving stop of a comebacker to the left of the mound off the bat of Eugenio Suarez. The pitcher recovered in time to flip the ball to first to once again strand three runners.
"He battled," Francona said. "He had to. There were six walks. There was traffic the whole game. … But, he didn't break and he competed and got a win because of it."
Broken record: Ramirez's two-run shot in the third inning set a new single-season mark for an Indians switch-hitter, surpassing the 34 homers belted by Carlos Santana in 2016. Ramirez turned on an inside fastball from Bailey, sending it arcing over the right-field line and just over the wall in the corner. Per Statcast™, the blast had an 89.7 mph exit velocity and traveled a projected 358 feet, resulting in a home run despite just a 3-percent hit probability. Ramirez is now two homers behind MLB leader J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox.
"I wanted to come back in for a punchout," Bailey said of the inside pitch. "How he kept the ball fair, I don't know. It's a little short down the lines. That guy is having a great season. When you're having that kind of a season, that's the stuff you do."
When Francisco Lindor crossed the plate on Cabrera's two-run single in the sixth, it marked the MLB-leading 100th run scored of the season for the Tribe shortstop. Lindor ended each of the past two seasons with exactly 99 runs. He became the eighth Indians player with at least 75 percent of their games at short to reach the century mark, joining Jhonny Peralta (2008), Omar Vizquel (1999, 2000), Dick Howser (1964), Lou Boudreau (1948), Lyn Lary (1937), Joe Sewell (1921) and Ray Chapman (1915).
Tribe ace Corey Kluber (14-6, 2.74 ERA) is slated to start on Tuesday night when the Reds host the Indians in a 7:10 p.m. ET Ohio Cup clash at Great American Ball Park. Kluber is 13-7 with a 2.68 ERA, 170 strikeouts and 15 walks in 23 career Interleague starts (154 1/3 innings), including going 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA vs. Cincinnati. The Reds will counter with righty Sal Romano (7-9, 4.94 ERA).