Bourn breaks out with outstanding day at plate
Veteran producing after lineup shuffle, contributes to big 8-run 3rd
CLEVELAND -- Michael Bourn has spent the majority of his career as a leadoff hitter, but the Indians' center fielder has taken off at the plate since losing that role last month. To Bourn, the timing of the lineup change and his resurgence in the batter's box fall into the category of coincidence.
"Yeah," Bourn said. "This is my ninth [full] year playing, and I've been hitting there probably seven of those years."
During Wednesday's 12-3 rout of the Rangers, Bourn kept his recent hot streak going with one stolen base, two RBIs and three hits. The center fielder contributed a pair of RBI singles, including one within Cleveland's eight-run outburst in the third inning against Texas right-hander Colby Lewis.
It was a strong all-around showing for the Indians' lineup, but it was a particularly good day for the veteran Bourn. For the first time in his career with Cleveland, he had at least two hits, two RBIs and a steal. He had not done that since June 23, 2012, when he was with the Braves.
"He has been doing a lot better," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's an important part of what we're doing. We didn't want to run away from him, but we also have to try to balance what we're doing and who we have on our roster. He's doing a lot better."
In 27 games since being removed from the leadoff spot on April 26, Bourn has turned in a .300/.378/.388 slash line with 10 walks, 11 runs scored and 16 strikeouts in 80 at-bats. In the previous 15 games, the center fielder hit .180/.254/.213 with six walks, six runs and 16 strikeouts in 61 at-bats.
Bourn has done most of his offensive damage batting in the lower third of the lineup, but Francona agreed that the decision to drop the center fielder in the order is not necessarily related to his recent showing at the plate.
"He's been doing this for a long time," Francona said. "I just think he's starting to swing the bat better."
After moving Bourn out of the leadoff spot, Francona handed the keys to the top of the order to second baseman Jason Kipnis. In 30 games over the same time period, all Kipnis has done is produce a .398/.469/.683 slash line to go along with three triples, five home runs, 14 doubles, 17 walks, 17 strikeouts, 18 RBIs and 30 runs. Kipnis went 3-for-5 in Wednesday's win.
"Kip's doing an excellent job there," Bourn said. "I'm not taking anything away from him. He's been hot. Wherever [Francona] lines the lineup at, man, I just play. You don't make the lineup. You just go out there and play. So, whatever combination he thinks works for us, then I'm going to go out there and play."