CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor sliced a pitch into left field for a double in the first inning on Saturday, and it continued an impressive hitting streak for the Indians' shortstop.That hit proved to be the start of a huge day in the batter's box for the Tribe's leadoff man. Even
CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor sliced a pitch into left field for a double in the first inning on Saturday, and it continued an impressive hitting streak for the Indians' shortstop.
That hit proved to be the start of a huge day in the batter's box for the Tribe's leadoff man. Even a 75-minute rain delay prior to first pitch couldn't cool off Lindor.
The Indians' shortstop churned out four extra-base hits, including a pair of home runs, to help power the Tribe to a 6-2 victory over the Royals at Progressive Field. His showing, which extended his hitting streak to 13 games, backed a solid start from Mike Clevinger, and pulled Cleveland back to .500 -- and atop the American League Central standings.
"I think he's a really good hitter," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you spray the ball around from foul pole to foul pole, you're going to get hits that other guys don't."
After making a costly error in the Tribe's 10-9 loss in the opener against the Royals on Friday, Francona said Lindor was bound to "come back with a vengeance". The shortstop rewarded his manager's confidence in him with a big day at the plate.
"I mean he's had a couple of tough games, there's no getting around that," Francona said. "And that's baseball. Players do that. But boy he sure is talented. I mean he's come a long way. … When he uses the whole field, he stays balanced, and he's strong enough with his hands [that] he can get rewarded when he hits the ball the other way."
Lindor's leadoff double off Royals starter Jakob Junis in the first set up an RBI single from Michael Brantley, who combined with the shortstop for seven hits on the day. In the third, Lindor sent a 2-0 sinker from Junis 345 feet to the right-field stands for his 11th home run of the season. Lindor doubled and scored again in the sixth, and belted homer No. 12 in the seventh over the 19-foot wall in left.
"I gave up with that, I don't mess with that thing," Lindor joked about Progressive Field's intimidating wall. "If it goes out, it goes out. If it doesn't go out, it's whatever. I gave up. I'm tired of trying to hit the ball over that fence, or not trying to hit it that way. I give up. That wall always wins."
It didn't on Saturday.
The blasts gave Lindor -- the reigning AL Player of the Week -- a Major League-leading eight home runs in the month of May.
After giving up the first home run to Lindor, Junis retired the next eight Indians before giving up back-to-back doubles to the hot-hitting shortstop and Brantley in the sixth. Junis' outing ended after 5 2/3 innings, and he was charged with four runs on six hits. Junis was handed the loss, and is now 4-3.
Clevinger allowed both of the Royals' runs in 7 2/3 innings, while striking out five, helping seal the win for the Tribe. Backed by Lindor's offensive outpouring -- combined with two RBIs from Brantley and run-scoring hits by Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso -- Clevinger improved to 3-0.
During Lindor's 13-game streak, he has hit .458 (27-for-59) with eight homers, 15 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. In his latest performance, the switch-hitting shortstop used the entire field to collect his 12 total bases.
"That's all I want to do," Lindor said. "I'm not a power hitter. I want to hit the ball hard. If it goes out, it goes out. But, my job is to hit the ball all over the place. It's sad when you see a guy 5-10, 5-11, 185 [lbs.], and they shift on him. I want to hit the ball all over the place. I don't want a shift on me."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
It takes two: The Royals were trying to build a big inning against Clevinger in the third, when Jonathan Jay and Jorge Soler connected for consecutive doubles, putting the Indians behind, 2-1. The next batter, Mike Moustakas, lined a pitch to shallow right, where second baseman Jason Kipnis was playing in the shift. Kipnis leapt to make the catch and quickly fired to Lindor at second to double up Soler, who strayed too far off the bag. The double play halted the inning and the Indians' lineup soon overcame the deficit.
"That was a huge momentum-shifter, too," Clevinger said. "They just got done scoring a run. I had to stop them from getting a run on the board. That was huge for me."
Lindor became the first Indians leadoff hitter to have four extra-base hits in a game since July 3, 1964, when Tito Francona -- father of Tribe manager Terry Francona -- accomplished the feat against the White Sox.
"How about that? That's pretty cool," Francona said.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Lindor also became the first Indians player to record at least four hits that each had an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater in a single game over the past four seasons, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"You don't take it for granted, but it is expected with a guy like that. You know it's coming. You know, especially if he didn't go off the day before, it's like, what the [heck's] going to happen tonight? He didn't get two home runs last night. He's about to bang tonight. That's just awesome to have that in the lineup." -- Clevinger, on Lindor
Right-hander Corey Kluber (5-2, 2.62 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday in a 1:10 p.m. ET matchup against the Royals at Progressive Field. Kluber has yet to face Kansas City this season, but went 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA in two starts against them last year. The Royals will counter with southpaw Danny Duffy (1-4, 5.15 ERA), who is 2-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 career starts against the Tribe.
** Casey Harrison ** is a reporter for MLB.com.