Kids are all right: Lindor, Urshela spark Tribe
Rookie third baseman homers, shortstop makes diving play in win over Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Giovanny Urshela's poise was put to the test on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. As the Indians' rookie third baseman tried to talk to reporters, shortstop Francisco Lindor kept sneaking over and placing a sock on Urshela's head.
"It feels pretty nice with him next to me at shortstop," Urshela said of Lindor. "And next to me in the locker room."
During Tuesday's 6-2 win over the Rays, both Urshela and Lindor put their respective abilities on display. The third baseman belted a three-run home run in the seventh inning and played his standard stellar defense. Lindor also flashed some leather, making a highlight-reel diving stop in the fourth inning that created some well-earned groans from the Tropicana Field crowd.
Cleveland made a bold move earlier this month when the club handed the keys to the left side of the infield to a pair of rookies, but Urshela and Lindor have done their part.
"They've been great. I think they're on an advanced learning curve right now," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "We're trying to slow the game down as much as we can for them. We tell them, 'Anything you've done in Triple-A, it's the same thing up here. The game doesn't switch -- it's just a little bit faster.' They'll get used to the speed, but they're definitely holding their own."
Lindor said it helps that he and Urshela have been teammates since instructional league, and everyday infield partners since 2013 in Double-A.
"I'm saying it now, and I'm going to say it for the rest of my career," Lindor said, "it's the most fun I've had since Day 1. He made it a lot more comfortable for me. It makes it more relaxing for me. It makes it more competitive for me because he's such a great player all-around -- player and person -- that it makes me work hard to be as good as him."
In the fourth inning, Lindor ranged to his left on a sharply-hit grounder off the bat of Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. The young shortstop dove and snared the ball, but it slipped out of his glove for a brief moment. Lindor quickly gathered himself and the ball, and threw Longoria out at first base to bring an emphatic end to the inning.
"That was huge," said Indians pitcher Danny Salazar, who was on the mound at the time. "I loved it. He plays really hard."
In the seventh inning, Urshela crushed a first-pitch fastball from Steve Geltz to left field, where it cleared the wall for his second career homer. The blast came in front of roughly 25 of Urshela's family members, who came from Miami, Orlando and his native Colombia to watch him play.
"I was looking for any pitch in the zone," Urshela said. "I was ready to hit it. I was very excited for the home run."
As he spoke, Urshela removed a bright red sock from his head.