It may have had something to do with what Jake Bauers said after another dreary showing by the offense in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to Chicago. When asked how a team snaps out of a 1 1/2-month offensive funk, Bauers said, “It’s kind of like what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do you relax and score more runs or do you score more runs and then you relax? We’ll see.”
Exactly what the Indians did first, relax or score runs, isn’t clear. Whatever it was they should keep doing it after hitting five home runs — including two by Jordan Luplow — on the way to a 9-0 win over the White Sox.
“It was nice,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of the offensive outburst. “We haven’t had one of these for a while, so it felt good to get a lead, stretch it out a little bit and have some breathing room. It makes for a good day, because we haven’t done that very often to this point. The guys did a good job.”
The Indians (22-18) entered the game ranked 14th in the AL with 36 homers. Maybe they were just overdue, or maybe they ran into the right pitcher on the right day. Whatever the reason they avoided another sweep on this two-city trip with a victory in the last game of the series.
While the Tribe’s hitters were clearing the fences, Carlos Carrasco (4-3, 4.18) was beating the White Sox for the second time in six days. On Thursday at Progressive Field, he pitched five scoreless innings in a rain-shortened 5-0 win. On Wednesday he was better, pitching seven scoreless.
Carrasco, in 12 innings against the White Sox this season, hasn’t allowed a run or walk, while striking out 13 batters. Chicago has managed eight hits against him.
“Again, he established the fastball early, and after that came changeups and breaking balls,” Francona said of Carrasco. “When he can go 94 or 95 mph, then he starts breaking out the offspeed — it gets tough to hit. He has that ability.”
Roberto Perez, Luplow (twice), Bauers and Jose Ramirez homered. Perez, Luplow and Bauers went deep against lefty Manny Banuelos, who left the game with a sore left shoulder in the fifth. It was Banuelos (2-3, 7.26) who faced the Tribe on Thursday in Cleveland. Luplow hit two homers against him in that game. The two were re-acquainted in the fourth inning on Tuesday when Luplow hit a two-run homer for a 3-0 lead.
“To get some right-handed presence in the lineup is huge for us,” Francona said of Luplow. “And to see him feeling confident right now and being really dangerous — that will help us.”
The homers unfolded this way:
— Perez: Homer to center for 1-0 lead in the third. It was Perez’s fifth homer and his second in the last three games.
— Luplow: Two-run homer to center in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. It was Luplow’s third homer.
— Bauers: Lead-off homer to center in the fifth for a 4-0 lead. It was Bauers’ fourth homer.
— Luplow: Leadoff homer to center in the sixth off lefty Josh Osich. Luplow’s four homers have all come against the White Sox.
— Ramirez: Followed Luplow with a homer to left off Osich for a 8-0 lead. It was Ramirez’s fourth homer and the first time the Indians have hit consecutive homers this season.
The Indians went 2-3 on this five-game trip through Oakland and Chicago. On Tuesday, they out-hit Chicago, 11-7. Jason Kipnis, Luplow and Bauers had two hits each. Luplow went 2-for-5 with three RBI. He’s hitting .280 overall and .314 (11-for-35) with four homers and six RBI since his recall from Class AAA Columbus on April 28.
Oscar Mercado, in his big-league debut, started in left field. He went 0-for-3, was hit by a pitch and scored a run.
The Indians are off Thursday before opening an 11-game homestand Friday with a four-game series against Baltimore. Trevor Bauer (4-2, 3.02), Jefry Rodriguez (1-2, 2.92), Shane Bieber (2-2, 3.81) and Carrasco are scheduled to start the four games for the Tribe.