CLEVELAND -- Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor wanted to be the club's leadoff hitter this season. The switch-hitting shortstop embraced the opportunity to set the tone for the lineup, injecting energy from the first pitch of the game on.Lindor has made the most of that role, and in record fashion.In the
CLEVELAND -- Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor wanted to be the club's leadoff hitter this season. The switch-hitting shortstop embraced the opportunity to set the tone for the lineup, injecting energy from the first pitch of the game on.
Lindor has made the most of that role, and in record fashion.
In the first inning of Saturday's 15-0 win over the Tigers -- a victory that clinched a third straight American League Central title -- Lindor launched a franchise-record eighth leadoff home run of the year. Grady Sizemore held the previous mark with seven homers to open a game during the 2008 campaign. Lindor's jack was the 11th leadoff homer of his career.
"Whether we're trying to clinch or not," Lindor said, "going out there and scoring early, it's extremely important."
Lindor, who has 35 home runs on the season overall, crushed an 0-1 two-seamer from Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer, who threw the pitch low and in. Lindor laced the pitch to the seats beyond the right-field wall with an exit velocity of 105.4 mph, according to Statcast™.
Three pitches later, Michael Brantley also went deep against Fulmer, who then exited following a quick meeting with manager Ron Gardenhire and a member of the club's medical staff. It marked the first time the Indians opened a game with consecutive home runs since July 8, 2016, when Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis did so against the Yankees.
The back-to-back homers sparked a six-run first inning against the Tigers, and Cleveland's lineup did not slow down. The Indians held an 11-0 lead after two innings en route to a 15-0 lead after four. The substantial cushion allowed the clubhouse staffers ample time to set up the postgame celebration.
"It was great," Brantley said of the surplus of offense. "It shows how focused that our team was that we wanted to make sure we did it in front of our home fans. We were one game away, but we wanted to make sure that we control our own destiny, so that we can enjoy this moment.
"I think we did a good job of just putting some good swings on the ball and doing it as a team. It was a total team effort today."
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.