Twelve final thoughts from a game that involved some chicken suits, twelve runs for the Tribe and an angry Nick Swisher.
1. Cody Allen and Corey Kluber wore chicken suits to shag balls before the game, as the Indians entered Friday night losers of six straight and owners of not much offense. A couple of guys were laughing about it, as they went about their normal business. Just in a chicken suit.
2. It worked about as well as it could have for the offense. The Indians scored five runs in the first inning, more than any single game total from their west-coast trip. Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley each hit home runs. Asked if there was any kind of theory to the chicken suits, Brantley said, "No. But if there is, we’re gonna do that a lot more often, I know that.” Manager Terry Francona added, "I don’t care what takes credit. It was nice to shake hands. We needed that. If we’re gonna win again they can all show up wearing chicken outfits."
3. Francona often talks about being strong enough to come to the ballpark, see that your record isn't what you want it to be, and be able to play through it and take things one day at a time. Two guys showing up in chicken suits to lighten up the clubhouse is a pretty solid sign of that.
4. Santana starting to hit—three home runs in his last four games—is a fantastic sign for the Indians as they lose the services of Jason Kipnis for 3-5 weeks. General manager Chris Antonetti talked before the game about how he and Francona try to stay patient throughout a season. Antonetti used Kipnis last year as an example of how it worked, and he can use Santana this year as another prime example.
5. To Santana's credit, he has been walking all season long. The hits just weren't coming. Now they are, in bunches. Said Francona, "The good part is, when he gets hot, it’s not just singles. He’ll hit the all out of the ballpark, he’ll hit the ball in the gap. He can still take his walks but he’ll be a big run-producer for us.
6. Brantley now leads the team with five home runs. He says he's not doing anything differently, though. No new approach. No new weight system. No goal of hitting 30 home runs. Said Brantley, "I put good swings on the baseball. They go out, they go out. [If] It’s a line drive, it’s a ground ball, I just try to get the barrel to the ball as much as possible. "
7. Danny Salazar was again a bit wild but also a bit electric. He struck out six hitters in five innings and several times had to pitch his way out of trouble, and not always by his own doing. Elliot Johnson, filling in for Kipnis, made two errors as he took throws from the left side of the infield on what could have been two double plays. Both times, he dropped the ball trying to exchange it to his throwing hand. Yan Gomes also had a passed ball, which allowed a run to score.
8. Antonetti on Friday and Francona last week have each said they know the defense should get better. Statistically speaking, it really should. But it really hasn't so far.
9. This brings us to Nick Swisher, who said he loved the chicken outfit stunt. But he was also apparently frustrated with the Cleveland media for some things written about the Tribe, his own numbers, something. Said Swisher, "There have been a lot of bad things written about this team in the papers. We pay attention to all that stuff." About a week ago he became frustrated with another reporter for asking how Swisher thought he was swinging the bat, but the first part of the question was him asking because Swisher had begun to hit so well. He's currently hitting .214.
10. Swisher has said before he doesn't care about stats. But he does care about what's written about those stats.
11. About the White Sox—Jose Abreu is really, really good. And he was a great signing for Chicago. He now leads the major leagues with 11 home runs in his first season in MLB. He hit his 11th tonight off of Salazar. It traveled 378 feet, which wasn't entirely noteworthy. But what was noteworthy: according to ESPN, it had an apex of 160 feet. It went 160 feet in the air. Meaning theoretically, you could have put a 15-story building somewhere in left field and it would have cleared it. Also according to ESPN, it's the highest home run hit this season.
12. That's a serious home run. The Indians just got done dealing with guy who destroys Cleveland in Paul Konerko. It looks like the White Sox just signed his successor, although he's crushing every team's pitching.