Tribe responds to Deadline action with 4 HRs
Perez goes deep twice; Santana, Kipnis hit 3-run shots
CLEVELAND -- The Indians offense put its power on full display in Wednesday’s 10-4 victory at Progressive Field over the Astros … even without sluggers Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes penciled in the lineup.
Cleveland officially traded starting pitcher Trevor Bauer earlier in the day to get some much-needed pop in the middle of its batting order, and the offense started heating up just in time for the power hitters to join in on the fun. The Indians combined for four homers on the night, which was the eighth time this season the club had hit at least that many in a game. The Tribe closed July with a 18-6 record, its most wins in the month since going 18-9 in 1995.
“It shows you what kind of team we are and what we’re capable of doing out there,” Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. “... We just got to go out there, have a lot of energy and who wants it more. That’s what it showed tonight. We wanted it, and you could see everybody smiling, happy. Our dugout, we had a lot of energy. It felt like a playoff atmosphere, pretty much. Our fans got into it a little bit. It was a good win for us.”
Perez started the slugfest in the second inning, launching the first of a trio of three-run homers for the Indians and his first of two home runs for the game. Carlos Santana added his own three-run shot in the fifth and, in what will likely be his final game as the Indians’ cleanup hitter -- assuming Reyes and Puig make it to Cleveland on time for Thursday’s finale -- second baseman Jason Kipnis launched a three-run bomb in the sixth. It was the first time since Aug. 27, 2010, that the Indians clubbed three or more homers with at least two runners on base in a game.
“There aren’t a whole lot of nights you get three three-run homers, especially against Houston,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I thought all of our guys played a good game tonight. When we beat Houston, we’ve played a really good game because they’re a really good team.”
Not only did the Indians’ batting order desperately need some strength, it was specifically necessary from the right side of the plate. Puig and Reyes -- both right-handed hitters -- add 49 combined homers to a Cleveland lineup that had hit the third fewest amount of homers from righty bats (52) in the Majors this season, trailing only the Giants (50) and Rangers (46) entering play on Wednesday. Comparatively, the Astros have hit 131 such homers this year.
“It means a lot, man,” Perez said of adding Puig and Reyes. “I think they’re trying to upgrade the offense, and those two guys are having a good season, you know, hitting home runs, and I’m looking forward to meeting them, man. It’s this time of the year when you get new guys in and you hope ... you hope they contribute to the team, because we got one goal, and that’s to win a championship. So, looking forward to meeting them and we’ll see how they are, you know personalities over here. But I’m ready for them to come here and contribute to the team.”
But Perez, one of two righties on the Tribe who has hit at least 10 homers this season, decided to bump up the Indians’ right-handed homer total, recording the first multihomer game of his career in the regular season by tacking on a solo shot to right-center field in the sixth inning.
“Berto has proven, when he hits the ball the other way, he’s strong enough to do damage and it makes him more dangerous,” Francona said. “And you saw it tonight.”
Perez was a pleasant surprise for the Tribe’s offense in the first half of the season, hitting .256 with an .872 OPS, 16 homers and 36 RBIs in 63 games. But the backstop injured his ankle in Cincinnati leading into the All-Star break and was batting .160 with a .432 OPS, no homers and four RBIs heading into Wednesday’s 2-for-3 night.
“I don’t want to make an excuse, man,” Perez said. “Right after the All-Star break, my timing was a little off. I don’t want to get my ankle involved. But just working to be the hitter I was in the first half. … I’ve been getting treatment and I want to stay on the field. I want to be out there with the team, so I’m doing everything we can in the trainer’s room so I can go out there and play.”