Indians believe Gomes will break out at plate

Catcher hits into pair of double plays as offense struggles vs. Royals

June 14th, 2016

KANSAS CITY -- The Indians keep waiting for that hit that gets Yan Gomes back on track. There have been a few moments this year already when it looked like the catcher might be turning a corner, only to see him slip back into the slump that has consumed his season.

The problems persisted on Monday night, when Gomes grounded into a pair of double plays that highlighted the Tribe's lineup-wide shortcomings in a 2-1 loss to the Royals. In his final two plate appearances, Gomes stepped into the box with runners on, afforded the chance to swing the game's momentum. Each time, he chopped into rally-killing groundouts.

"We have his back," first baseman Mike Napoli said. "We have confidence that he's going to get out of this thing and be all right, because we're going to need him. And I'm pretty sure there's going to be people around here that let him know that, to keep going and let him know that he's part of this thing and we're going to need him."

With an 0-for-3 showing against the Royals, who are now two games back of the American League Central-leading Indians, Gomes is now saddled with a .169/.208/.349 slash line through 48 games. His offensive woes date to last year, when he hit .231 in 95 games, but Gomes' issues at the plate in 2015 were written off the result of a knee injury that cost him considerable time on the shelf.

Gomes entered this season healthy and primed to potentially build on the breakout showing he enjoyed in 2014, when he picked up an AL Silver Slugger Award. So far, that has been far from the case.

"It'll happen. It'll happen," manager Terry Francona said. "I know it's hard for him right now and I know he's frustrated, but it'll break free. He's too good a player."

The Indians went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Monday, grounding into three double plays and coming up empty in the handful of chances a wild Edinson Volquez offered. Gomes struck out to open the second inning, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth and chopped into another 6-4-3 twin killing for the first two outs of the ninth.

Over his past 12 games, Gomes has gone 4-for-37 (.108).

That stretch followed a 10-game period in which Gomes hit .250 with six extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and an .870 OPS. Gomes ended an 0-for-20 skid with a home run on May 13 and homered in each of his next three games. That did not wind up being the turning point that it looked like at the time.

"He's going to get hot," Francona said. "He's kind of going through that right now where he hits the ball hard and it gets caught. You want to feel good about yourself. When you line out and you're going good, it's, 'OK.' But, when you line out and you're struggling, it's like more weight on your shoulders. It's easy to tell him, 'Hey, stick with it,' but you [as a player] want to see some success."

All the Indians can do right now is keep waiting.

Backup Roberto Perez underwent surgery on his right thumb in early May and is rehabbing in Arizona, with another month or two still remaining in his comeback. Chris Gimenez, who has served as the main No. 2 catcher in Perez's absence, has started six of the past 13 games and 11 of the past 26, but he has hit .167 in 21 games. As Napoli said, Cleveland needs Gomes to get going under the circumstances.

"It's tough," Napoli said. "When people struggle like that, it hurts us in here, too. But, we have confidence in him that he'll be able to get out of this thing."