Francisco Lindor and Juan Uribe homered in a three-run eighth inning to lead the Indians to a 7-4 win over the Rays in Monday night's series opener at Progressive Field. Cleveland has won four in a row and extended its lead in the American League Central to one game over the Royals, while the Rays have lost five straight.
Lindor went 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. The Indians' shortstop broke a 4-4 deadlock with a leadoff homer to right in the eighth to put the Tribe up for good. PerStatcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 372 feet at 101 mph. Uribe added a two-run shot to center later in the inning.
"Whenever we are down we don't think about quitting," Lindor said. "That's the good thing about this team. We believe in each other. It doesn't matter who we are playing, we know we have a chance."
Uribe homered for the third straight game since returning from a groin injury. It is the first time in his career he has homered in three consecutive games.
Neither starter factored in the decision. Rays left-hander Drew Smyly scattered eight hits over seven innings and gave up four runs. Smyly started off the contest with three scoreless innings and five strikeouts. However, he would not record another strikeout and surrendered a run in each of the next four innings.
Tribe starter Josh Tomlin continued to struggle with the long ball. The right-hander surrendered a pair of home runs in the no-decision effort. He has given up a homer in 11 of his 13 outings this year and multiple home runs three times. Tomlin wound up tossing seven innings, in which he allowed four runs (three earned) off five hits.
"I thought the offense had some pretty nice at-bats," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Tomlin did a nice job of kind of sticking to his game plan. You saw a lot of weak contact. A lot of balls off the end. We knew that coming in he was going to throw a lot of cutters."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Homer-happy Longoria: Longoria connected on an 0-1 pitch from Tomlin in the first inning and deposited the baseball over the wall in left to give the slugger his 18th homer of the season and the Rays a 2-0 lead. Longoria has homered in nine of his last 15 games. He is on pace to break the American League single-season record for home runs hit by a third baseman, 43, set by Cleveland's Al Rosen in 1953. More >
Mahtook breaks his hand:Mikie Mahtook had to leave the game after getting hit on his left hand by a Josh Tomlin pitch in the top of the second. X-rays revealed that the Rays outfielder has a fracture and is headed for the disabled list. Once that transaction takes place, the Rays will have four outfielders on the DL -- Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr.,Brandon Guyer and Mahtook, leaving the cupboard somewhat bare.
Rays designated hitter Steve Pearce left in the ninth with a hamstring injury. Pearce flew out and came up lame, grabbing his right hamstring. He told reporters after the game that for now they will take a wait-and-see approach to how they proceed. More >
Slamtana's solo: With one out in the sixth, Indians first baseman Carlos Santana blasted a solo shot to center to cut the deficit to 4-3. According to Statcast™, Santana's homer traveled an estimated 440 feet with an exit velocity of 106 mph. It marked his second home run this homestand and his 15th on the season, which ties Mike Napoli for the team lead.
Bullies in the basepath: In the series opener the Indians recorded three stolen bases. The Tribe are now 54-for-68 on stolen base attempts this season, a mark that is good for second in the American League and third in all of baseball. Lindor's third-base swipe in the fourth inning led to the first Tribe run of the game, as he scored on a fielder's choice moments following his base theft.
"I have to be aggressive. I'm playing to win," Lindor said. "It doesn't matter who is pitching and who is hitting because the ultimate goal as a runner is scoring. That's why Tito is one of the best because he lets us do our thing."
QUOTABLE "It's a frustrating time right now, there's no doubt about it. But this organization believes, we believe, I believe, and I think most importantly, our players kind of believe we can right this ship. It's going to take a little bit of time. We have to start doing some things a little bit better. But I like the way the guys keep coming in and continue to be positive." -- Cash, on the Rays' five-game losing streak
"We've had some good crowds. The energy has been great in the dugout, the energy has been great in the crowd, the fans, and I don't know. We get the last at bat. We've been taking advantage of that." -- Indians manager Terry Francona, on his team's ninth straight home victory
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS The home run Smyly surrendered to Santana in the sixth was the 16th he's given up this season and the ninth long ball hit against him in his last six starts, spanning 35 innings.
UNDER REVIEW With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes hit a sharp grounder to Miller. Gomes busted down the first base line and was initially ruled out on a close play at first. However, Francona elected to challenge the call and after one minute, 28 seconds Gomes was awarded first with an infield single. Gomes would go on to score on an RBI single from Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis to cut the deficit to one run.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: Left-hander Blake Snell (0-1, 2.16) will make his third Major League start on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Though five runs scored against him on Thursday against the Mariners, only one was earned in 3 1/3 innings. The rookie has allowed first-inning runs in both of his starts, including three (one earned) during his 33-pitch first inning against the Mariners.
Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (6-7, 4.23 ERA) will be making his 15th start for the Tribe on Tuesday. Kluber is coming off his worst outing of the season, in which he allowed eight runs on nine hits over five innings in a loss to the Royals on Wednesday.