ANAHEIM -- Edwin Encarnacion sat in the Indians' dugout, chugging water while teammate Trevor Bauer fanned the exhausted slugger with a towel. Encarnacion had just completed an unlikely trip around the bases on a fluke play, leading to an inside-the-park home run Monday night at Angel Stadium.Known for his signature
ANAHEIM -- Edwin Encarnacion sat in the Indians' dugout, chugging water while teammate Trevor Bauer fanned the exhausted slugger with a towel. Encarnacion had just completed an unlikely trip around the bases on a fluke play, leading to an inside-the-park home run Monday night at Angel Stadium.
Known for his signature home run trot, during which he hoists his right arm around the bases, Encarnacion did not have time to take his invisible parrot along for the ride this time. Even after the Indians' 6-0 win over the Angels, Tribe manager Terry Francona joked that he thought Encarnacion had time to provide the perch.
"That's what my teammates were talking about," Encarnacion said with a laugh. "I said, 'I don't think I can make it on that one.'"
The play in question unfolded in the second inning, when the slugger pulled an 0-1 pitch from Angels right-hander JC Ramirez deep down the left-field line, where the ball struck a yellow portion of the wall's padding. Angels left fielder Justin Upton closed in fast on the ball, but it eluded his grasp and bounced back into the outfield, while Encarnacion hustled around the bases.
Upton -- thinking the fly ball was foul -- leaned over the wall for a moment before running to retrieve the ball as it rolled along the warning track. By the time he fired the baseball to the infield, overthrowing the cutoff man in the process, Encarnacion was around third and on his way to scoring.
"I had no clue the ball was fair," Upton said. "I couldn't hear anything."
The designated hitter is not known for his speed, but he read the play well and saw an opening.
"I said, 'Oh man, I've got to make it to the plate,'" Encarnacion said.
It was Encarnacion's effort level that convinced third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh to wave him home.
"I felt he was in a good spot," Sarbaugh said, "because he was giving it a good effort at that point. So I knew he felt like he had a chance. Once I saw when Upton picked the ball up, I just felt good about being able to send him, just the way he had to pick it up and throw it in. I knew it was going to be a tough play."
After crossing home plate, Encarnacion was high-fived on the field by Francisco Lindor, who could not contain his laughter. Once in the dugout, the slugger jokingly grabbed his chest, while utility man Erik Gonzalez offered him a cup of water. Bauer trailed behind, flapping a towel to help Encarnacion cool off.
Encarnacion loved every second of it.
"It was fun," he said. "Everybody was laughing about it. Everybody enjoyed it."
Asked about Encarnacion's journey around the bases, Indians starter Mike Clevinger chuckled.
"I kind of want to see what Statcast™ has," Clevinger said. "He was moving, so we'll see."
According to Statcast™, Encarnacion made it around the bases in 18.86 seconds, marking the second-slowest home to home time on an inside-the-parker since May 15, 2016 (Ryan Zimmerman). Encarnacion, who ranked 420th in the Majors with a 25.6 sprint speed in 2017, posted a sprint speed of 24.9 feet per second on his trek against the Angels.
Encarnacion's inside-the-parker was the first such home run for the Indians since Aug. 19, 2016, when Tyler Naquin delivered one in walk-off fashion against the Blue Jays. For comparison, Naquin made it around the bases in 15.69 seconds and had a 28.5 sprint speed. When Naquin finished, he slide head-first across the plate, rose to his feet and thrust an arm skyward before being crushed under a mob of teammates.
On Monday night, Naquin was asked who did it better.
"Shoot, I'd have to go out and say that I did," Naquin said. "But no, man, that's a lot of praise for Edwin. That man's had a lot of homers and it's not easy to get an inside-the-park home run, so that obviously says Eddie's running hard, man. He plays the game the right way and it showed up."
At 35 years old, Encarnacion became the oldest player to turn in an inside-the-park home run since Derek Jeter did so for the Yankees at 36 on July 22, 2010, against the Royals. The last Indians player age 35 or older to have one was Charlie Jamieson on June 10, 1928, against Washington.
This actually marks the second inside-the-park shot for Encarnacion, whose last one came against the Cardinals on Aug. 31, 2007, when he was with the Reds. That makes the slugger the first player with a 10-plus year gap between a pair of inside-the-park homers since Jeter, who had one in 1996 and another in 2010 (13 years, 354 days apart).
The home run was quite the contrast from Sunday afternoon, when Encarnacion crushed two no-doubt blasts in a loss against the Mariners. After those homers, Encarnacion said he did not feel anything when the ball met the bat, even in cold conditions at Safeco Field.
Encarnacion felt something Monday.
"A lot," Encarnacion said. "It was a lot of running, but I like it."
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.