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Santana surging, starts Tribe's homer parade

First baseman has slugged 14 career jacks at Target Field
MLB.com @MLBastian

MINNEAPOLIS -- Indians first baseman Carlos Santana did not have a good answer. When asked why he has hit so many home runs at Target Field, he first called it a good question, but then found that a shrug was the only appropriate response.

"I don't know. I feel good," Santana said after an 8-1 rout of the Twins on Tuesday night. "It doesn't matter if it's here or another park. Right now, I feel more comfortable."

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Indians first baseman Carlos Santana did not have a good answer. When asked why he has hit so many home runs at Target Field, he first called it a good question, but then found that a shrug was the only appropriate response.

"I don't know. I feel good," Santana said after an 8-1 rout of the Twins on Tuesday night. "It doesn't matter if it's here or another park. Right now, I feel more comfortable."

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On this night, though, it did matter.

Santana's comfort level in Twins territory -- coupled with his second-half surge -- set the tone for the Tribe in its five-homer outpouring. Joining Santana in the night's derby were Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion and Austin Jackson. Each home run carried significance not only in the game's outcome, but in individual terms.

"It's contagious," Jackson said of the homers. "When you see those guys swinging the bats, doing their job in the middle of the order, it definitely takes a lot of pressure off the rest of us. When those guys are swinging the bat, it's a really tough lineup."

For Santana, his two home runs -- one off the ageless Bartolo Colon in the fourth and another against Dietrich Enns in the ninth -- gave him 14 career jacks at Target Field. That puts him into a three-way tie with Jose Bautista and Salvador Perez for the most homers by an opposing player in the ballpark's history.

More critical for the Indians, Santana's homers continued his post-All-Star renaissance. After batting .238 with a .749 OPS in the first half, the switch-hitter headed into Tuesday's action with a .260 average and .858 OPS in the second half. Those marks are extremely close to his career production in the first half (.238 average and .781 OPS), compared to the second (.258 average and .836 OPS).

"He's always been a second-half hitter," manager Terry Francona said.

Video: CLE@MIN: Kipnis leads off the top 5th with a homer

Kipnis' shot off Colon in the fifth pushed the Indians ahead, 2-1, and represented his first home run since June 19. In the nearly two months since that last blast, the second baseman has fought through slumps and injury issues. He's had shoulder, neck and hamstring problems throughout this campaign, hindering his slash line (.225/.285/.396) after setting career bests in homers (23) and slugging percentage (.469) a year ago.

"He's getting closer," Francona said. "And it might take a little time, but we've all seen what he can do when he gets going. He can kind of be a force."

Video: CLE@MIN: Encarnacion crushes homer to the upper deck

Encarnacion also joined the power parade in the fifth -- two batters after Kipnis went deep to right. Encarnacion showed off his strength with a towering blast that nearly reached the third-deck beyond left field. That marked his fifth homer in as many games and gave him a .660 slugging percentage for the month of August.

"You hope it goes to the end of the season," Francona said. "We're a different team when he swings like that."

Video: CLE@MIN: Jackson plates three with homer to left

Jackson helped put the game away in the seventh with a three-run blast over the wall in left. In a season riddled with injuries in the outfield, Jackson has been a godsend, even between his pair of DL stints. Jackson has hit .323/.391/.516 in 53 games, filling in at all three spots and excelling against lefty pitching.

"Guys have been feeding off each other," Jackson said. "It seems like we're just clicking on all cylinders right now."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Carlos Santana