Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Tribe clubs four homers to win 7th in a row

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Inside the Indians' clubhouse on Sunday morning, Jose Ramirez fought his pregame boredom by playfully throwing ice cubes at unsuspecting pitchers. When they looked in his direction, the third baseman avoided eye contact.

At least Cleveland's pitchers are only on the wrong side of Ramirez's clubhouse antics, as opposed to what rival pitchers have to deal with on the playing field. In a 12-2 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Sunday, Ramirez continued his torment of the rest of the league's arms by belting his 23rd home run of the season.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEVELAND -- Inside the Indians' clubhouse on Sunday morning, Jose Ramirez fought his pregame boredom by playfully throwing ice cubes at unsuspecting pitchers. When they looked in his direction, the third baseman avoided eye contact.

At least Cleveland's pitchers are only on the wrong side of Ramirez's clubhouse antics, as opposed to what rival pitchers have to deal with on the playing field. In a 12-2 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Sunday, Ramirez continued his torment of the rest of the league's arms by belting his 23rd home run of the season.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's unbelievable. It's been impressive, man," said Edwin Encarnacion, who belted a grand slam as part of a four-homer showing by the Indians. "But I'm not surprised. He's got a great swing -- a great, compact swing. I'm not surprised at all."

Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses Indians, Reds heating up Ohio

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

As has often been the case this season, Ramirez and Francisco Lindor were the driving force behind the Tribe's offense on Sunday. Ramirez has reached base in a career-high 31 consecutive games, and he is now tied with Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez for the MLB lead in homers. Lindor's Sunday showing featured two extra-base hits, including a homer for the third consecutive game.

Video: DET@CLE: Ramirez rips a solo homer, ties MLB lead

The dynamic infield duo went a combined 6-for-9 with three extra-base hits, five runs, three RBIs and a stolen base on Sunday to back a solid start from Adam Plutko. When all was said and done, Cleveland extended its winning streak to a season-high seven games and moved 10 games over .500 for the first time this year.

"Those two play at such a high level every day," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "They bring it every day."

Video: DET@CLE: Francona on Encarnacion, Ramirez's success

The last time the Indians had a player leading or tied for the MLB lead in home runs on June 24 was in 1996, when Albert Belle had 25 shots. Ramirez's 23 homers are tied for the fifth-most in club history through the team's first 76 games. As for Lindor, he now leads the Indians with 31 multi-hit games this season.

Between Lindor and Ramirez in the lineup is Michael Brantley, who had a three-hit performance to extend his on-base streak to 25 games. Behind Ramirez in the cleanup spot is Encarnacion, who now has 11 grand slams in his career and 18 homers on the year.

"I'm glad they're on our team," Plutko said of the Tribe's top four hitters. "Shoot, if you can get through them three times, you had yourself a great day."

In a five-run eighth inning, Jason Kipnis (solo homer) and Encarnacion (grand slam) blew the game wide open against reliever Artie Lewicki. That late flurry gave the Tribe 26 runs scored during the sweep of the Tigers, compared to just three runs allowed.

Video: DET@CLE: Kipnis crushes a solo homer to right-center

Plutko picked up the win for the Indians (43-33) after limiting Detroit to two runs on six hits in six innings. Tigers second baseman Niko Goodrum and catcher James McCann delivered RBI singles in the fourth against Plutko, but that was the lone inning in which the right-hander flinched.

Video: DET@CLE: Plutko works 6 strong innings, strikes out 4

The same could not be said for Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd, who was charged with six runs on eight hits in three-plus innings. A two-run homer by Lindor in the fourth inning -- marking the 19th shot of the season for the shortstop -- sent Boyd to the showers.

"We made him work really hard," Francona said. "Then, we scored and kept at it. It's a good formula. It's not always that easy to do, but it's a good way to win."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Setting up a slam: With one out and runners on second and third base in the eighth, the Tigers opted to intentionally walk Ramirez to load the bases. Ramirez has been put aboard intentionally five times in the past six games, and he has a career-high seven intentional free passes on the year. Detroit walked Ramirez four times (once intentionally) on Friday, too. This time, Encarnacion made the strategy backfire with his opposite-field slam.

Video: DET@CLE: Encarnacion belts a grand slam to right

"They're going to start walking Jose, because he's so dangerous," Francona said. "When Edwin swings like that, it has to make them think twice. Then, when they pitch around somebody, you love to see it hurt the other team. And you can tell Edwin was really bearing down there."

Breaking bad: Heading into Sunday's start, opposing batters had a .216 slugging percentage (25 total bases in 116 at-bats) against Boyd's slider, per Statcast™. Lindor broke through against the breaking pitch to open the first inning, sending the slider off the wall in left for a double. Three batters later, Encarnacion connected on a slider for a double that brought Lindor home. Overall, Cleveland went 4-for-10 off Boyd's slider with six total bases and four RBIs.

Video: DET@CLE: Encarnacion lines an RBI double to left

"I got hurt today when I just didn't hit my spot," Boyd said. "Hats off to them. They stayed in at-bats, they battled, and when I missed, they hit it. That was kind of the story."

Run, Tribe, run: The Indians stole three bases against the combination of Boyd and McCann in the second inning, marking the first time since Sept. 17, 2016, that Cleveland swiped three bags in one inning. Following an RBI single to right, Rajai Davis ignited the series of sprints by nabbing second for his 16th theft of the season. He later scored on Brantley's two-run single. Brantley and Ramirez also stole a base in the inning.

"It could be a number of things," McCann said. "It could be [Boyd] tipping when he's going over to first. It could be me tipping, or me setting up differently. It could be they had our signs. But, at the same time, we tried to cross all our checkpoints. Sometimes it's hard to make the in-game adjustment."

SOUND SMART
The Indians have six grand slams this season. Yonder Alonso and Brantley have two apiece, while Brandon Guyer and Encarnacion have each hit one. It marks the most slams in a season for Cleveland since the club had seven in 2010. That season's grand slams came via Travis Hafner (two), Shin-Soo Choo (two), Matt LaPorta, Lou Marson and Luis Valbuena.

HE SAID IT
"It's definitely a great foursome that we have there between Lindor, Brantley, myself and Edwin. I know it's definitely a challenge for a lot of opposing teams that have to go against us. So, it's really a pretty thing that we have going on there now." -- Ramirez, via translator

UP NEXT
Right-hander Mike Clevinger (6-2, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound in the opener of a three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday. During his last start on Tuesday, Clevinger held the White Sox to one run on five hits while striking out 10. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander John Gant (1-2, 4.39). First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.

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, Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez