CINCINNATI -- Indians manager Terry Francona omitted Rajai Davis' name from the starting lineup a few days ago, saying that it was a chance to allow the outfielder to take a deep breath. The veteran was mired in a prolonged slump and was not impacting Cleveland's lineup the way the
CINCINNATI -- Indians manager Terry Francona omitted Rajai Davis' name from the starting lineup a few days ago, saying that it was a chance to allow the outfielder to take a deep breath. The veteran was mired in a prolonged slump and was not impacting Cleveland's lineup the way the team knew he could.
In an 8-7 win over the Reds in 12 innings on Wednesday night, Davis showed that he is breathing just fine at the moment. The center fielder launched a pair of home runs, joining Francisco Lindor in a continued tormenting of Cincinnati's pitching staff en route to a third straight win over Cleveland's Interleague in-state rivals.
"Good for him," Francona said of Davis. "And good for us."
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Over the past three games, the Indians' lineup as a whole has lit up Reds pitching, churning out 36 runs in the three victories. Davis and Lindor, in particular have been thorns in Cincinnati's side. On Wednesday night, Davis belted a solo shot in the third, a game-tying blast in the ninth and then watched Lindor put Cleveland ahead for good with a rocket shot to center field in the 12th inning.
Davis' performance in the past three games -- he has reached base 12 times in 17 plate appearances -- comes after Francona kept him on the bench for Sunday's game against the Twins. Prior to that day off, the outfielder was batting .114 (5-for-44) in the 13 games dating back to a two-hit showing on April 25. Davis admitted that the mental break was beneficial.
"Absolutely," Davis said. "It's always nice to step away and just not get in your mind so much, and take a break and think about what has made you successful and get back to that focus that helped you to be successful at the start. I'm focused. I was able to change my focus and now I'm focused on just beating the pitcher."
Davis reached base four times in Monday's 15-6 victory and then had an historic outburst during Tuesday's 13-1 romp in Cleveland. In that win, he joined Manny Ramirez (Aug. 7, 1999) and Charlie Jamieson (Sept. 15, 1921) as the only Indians players in team history to have two walks, three hits, three RBIs and four runs in a single game.
That hot streak carried over into Wednesday, when Davis went 2-for-5 with the third multi-homer game of his career. Overall, the outfielder has gone 7-for-12 with one steal, three extra-base hits, five walks, seven RBIs and nine runs in the past three games. In that span, his season slash line has increased to .250/.311/.420 from .210/.248/.330 for the Tribe.
Similarly, Lindor has gone 9-for-17 with four extra-base hits and four RBIs in the past three wins.
Davis crushed an 81-mph slider from Reds lefty Tony Cingrani into the left-field seats for a two-run home run in the ninth, tying the game, 7-7. That blast, combined with some strong work by Cleveland's bullpen, set the stage for Lindor. In the 12th, the Indians' shortstop launched a 3-2 fastball from Keyvius Sampson to the center-field berm at Great American Ball Park for a solo shot.
Davis needed a few nights like these, too.
"It's nice when he's in our uniform," Francona said.
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 listen to his podcast.