CLEVELAND -- With runners on first and second, no outs and the Indians clinging to a one-run lead in the fifth inning of Thursday's series finale against the Dodgers, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts turned to reliever Thomas Stripling to face Indians right fielder Austin Jackson. This prompted Indians manager
CLEVELAND -- With runners on first and second, no outs and the Indians clinging to a one-run lead in the fifth inning of Thursday's series finale against the Dodgers, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts turned to reliever Thomas Stripling to face Indians right fielder Austin Jackson. This prompted Indians manager Terry Francona to make a move of his own, calling on Lonnie Chisenhall to pinch-hit.
Francona's decision ultimately paid off. Chisenhall connected on a 1-0 changeup from Stripling and drove it into the stands in right-center for a three-run homer. Chisenhall's shot proved to be a key difference maker in the Tribe's 12-5 victory at Progressive Field.
"Boy," Francona said, "Lonnie took a beautiful swing."
Although Francona's decision turned out to be the right one -- the Dodgers had scored three runs in the top half of the inning to make it a 5-4 game -- the manager mulled over it with bench coach Brad Mills.
"They had just fought back and you could kind of feel some of the momentum there," Francona said. "We're going back and forth, Millsy and I, watching the inning unfold: Do we leave Austin in and bunt him? Do we hit Lonnie? You want to tack on, but then we're bunting for the bottom of the order. I think Millsy kind of pushed me in that direction."
Per Statcast™, Chisenhall's eighth home run of the season traveled a projected 415 feet and had an exit velocity of 100 mph. It was Chisenhall's second pinch-hit home run this season.
"Tito finds those good situations for guys," Chisenhall said. "And you try to not read his mind, but I've done it for long enough that we're kind of on the same page, where I can visualize a good spot for me so you don't want to be caught off guard -- especially in situations like that. I know it was a little early, but I felt ready to go."
Chisenhall played right field for the remainder of the game and added a two-run single in the sixth. He finished the day 2-for-3 with five RBIs and raised his OPS from .884 to .923.
With his five RBIs off the bench, Chisenhall is only the third Indians player since 1913 to drive in five or more runs as a substitute. He joins John Ellis (six RBIs on Sept. 16, 1973) and Chuck Essegian (five RBIs on June 11, 1961) as the only three Tribe players to achieve this.
"It's more of a mindset than getting your body ready, so the only way to learn how to do it is to do it a lot," Chisenhall said. "I don't know how many I have now, but like I said, I embrace it. I like to go up there and swing the bat, and Tito picks those spots where you can have success."
Chisenhall's big day at the plate helped Indians starter Josh Tomlin earn his fourth win of the season. After the game, Tomlin credited Chisenhall for being prepared when his number was called.
"He's always ready, he's not cold," Tomlin said. "He's an intelligent player, he's a veteran, he's been around for a little while. ... He's a good player, that's what good players do. He's constantly ready whenever their time is called. That was a huge part of the game. That kind of broke it open for us, and they just kept adding on to it."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.