CLEVELAND -- Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall sat patiently for nearly two months. He had done his part and was hitting the ball well through the early part of the season. But even he was relieved to launch his first home run of the season just before the calendar flipped from
CLEVELAND -- Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall sat patiently for nearly two months. He had done his part and was hitting the ball well through the early part of the season. But even he was relieved to launch his first home run of the season just before the calendar flipped from May.
"Right before June," Chisenhall said after Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Rangers. "It was good. I've been hitting the ball hard and putting together good at-bats. You are up there just trying to have a quality at-bat. The home runs will come and go. Sometimes you will hit them all in one week, sometimes you will spread them all out."
In the seventh inning, Chisenhall put the Indians on the board with a two-run homer off Rangers reliever Tony Barnette. It was his first homer since September 20, 2015, a span of 42 games.
For much of the game, the Tribe couldn't get anything going offensively off of Rangers starter Colby Lewis. The right-hander flustered the Indians over six shutout innings and gave up just two hits. The first hit was a leadoff single in the third by Chisenhall.
"[Lewis] does a good job of not catching too much of the plate," Chisenhall said. "When he runs his cutter, it normally just catches the plate on the backdoor on a lefty or he's running it off in. He's a bigger guy and his fastball creeps up on you. It plays up. Whatever the scoreboard says he's throwing, it seems a little bit harder."
Barnette relieved Lewis in the seventh inning and immediately gave up a single to Jose Ramirez. Two batters later, Chisenhall blasted a two-run shot into right-center. Per Statcast™, his homer had an exit velocity of 102 mph and it traveled an estimated 411 feet from the plate.
"I know it was a cutter," Chisenhall said. "He's been pretty successful over in Japan and he's got a really good cutter and offspeed stuff. It was a nice swing and it was a tough pitch."
Chisenhall's blast came as a result of being patient at the plate and taking what the pitchers give him. In the month of May, he did just that, hitting .313 (21-for-67) in 78 plate appearances.
Later in Tuesday's loss, Chisenhall laced a single into center to finish 3-for-4. He is hitting .357 (30-for-84) in his career against Texas.
"I think he swung the ball very well tonight," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's been starting to get his hits. But tonight, he had his legs under and drove the ball. That was really good to see."
Chisenhall echoed his manager's comments and credited his improvement to all the work he has put in.
"I think my cage works has been better," Chisenhall said. "I thought my cage work from Spring Training and through my [injury] rehab in the Minors were good. The numbers weren't exactly there in the rehab starts and a handful of at-bats here. But I'm starting to feel good. Hoping I'm going in the right direction."
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.