Exactly one year ago today, the Indians sat in first place of the AL Central with a 39-30 record. They were on three-game winning streak (one that would stretch to 14 a few weeks later) and held on to the central lead the rest of the season. Flash forward to today and the Indians sit at 37-31, atop first place of the AL Central and currently on a six-game winning streak.
With Michael Brantley on paternity leave for this pas weekend series and with Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana mired in what seems like a month-long slump, two guys stepped up to the plate (both literally and figuratively). Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion, nearly by themselves bullied the Twins into second place.
Over his last seven games, Jose Ramirez has collected 19 hits (a .576 average over those games), scored 11 runs and has 14 extra base hits (10 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 home runs). He’s already matched his home run total from last season (11), currently is first in the AL in doubles and second in extra-base hits. All this while taking over Michael Brantley’s spot in the lineup this past weekend. Tito has said early this past weekend that when Brantley returns, Jose will move back into the five-hole to provide protection behind Encarnacion.
Speaking of Edwin Encarnacion, thank God we decided not to trade or release him after his molasses-slow start. Last season (with the Blue Jays), through 66 games, Edwin had a slash line of .250/.329/.504, along with 16 home runs and 56 RBI. This season through 66 games, Edwin has a slash line of .261/.379/.496, with 16 home runs and 37 RBI. Since his batting average dropped to .199 on May 20th, Edwin has a line of .364/.457/.72, he’s hit nine home runs and driven in 21 runs over that 25-game span. Needless to say, I think he is past his early season, new team adjustment, contract over-hype, slump.
That’s been the thing about this Indians team though, they still haven’t hit on all cylinders yet. While Jose and Edwin may have been hot, Kipnis, Lindor, and Santana are still struggling. Andrew Miller gave up home runs in back-to-back games against the Dodgers and the starting pitching is still as inconsistent as ever. The team has yet to play well as a whole and when that happens, well, another 14-game winning streak might be in the works.
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