Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians 7-6 win over the visiting Colorado Rockies Saturday at Progressive Field.
1) Mike Avilesisn’t your average reserve utility player. Not only can he play just about every position on the field like your average bench player, but he plays it well – both defensively and offensively.
Saturday, it was Aviles’ offense that led the way via a 3-for-4 effort that included a home run and four RBI. It was the kind of effort that allows Indians manager Terry Francona to say he searches for ways to get Aviles in the lineup, instead of just plugging him in when there’s a hole.
“You're almost looking for games to get him in,” Francona said. “That's how we feel about him.”
2) Having recently been relegated to the bench again after spending the last month subbing at second base for the injured Jason Kipnis (right ab strain) Aviles’ finger prints were all over Saturday’s Interleague victory when he started at second again when Kipnis was to get the day off.
After slugging his third home run of the season via a three-run shot to left field that highlighted the Tribe’s four-run second inning, Aviles drove in the winning run (ironically Kipnis, who pinch-hit in the eighth) against Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers in the eighth inning that handed the Tribe their second consecutive win.
3) Aviles has hits over his last three games, going 6-for-10 with five RBI over that span. Over his last nine games, he’s recorded 10 RBI and scored five runs.
“He's been awesome,” Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said of Aviles. “We just don't miss a beat. Mike's a great major leaguer, you just put him in the lineup and you don't lose any production.”
4) Speaking of Chisenhall, if there are any remaining reservations that the left-hander still can’t hit left-handed pitching, you’re just being too stubborn to see the forest through the trees.
Chisenhall entered the game with seven hits off lefties in limited exposure to them through the first two months of the season. Saturday, he started at third base against Rockies lefty Franklin Morales and promptly gave the Tribe an early 1-0 lead in his first at bat with an RBI single in the second inning, sparking the four-run frame. Even more impressive, Chisenhall added a 422-foot two-run home run off Morales in the sixth that pushed the Indians lead back to four runs and made him 9-for-16 against lefties this season.
5) Finally, Saturday gave more evidence as to how much yyoung right-handed starter Trevor Bauer has progressed since last season. While his pure stuff has always given the indication that he’s capable of becoming a future ace, Saturday’s third inning was a great example of his increasing maturity.
After cruising through the first two innings with just 24 pitches, Bauer needed 32 as he labored to get through a lengthy third inning. Yet, he never gave in. He limited the damage to two runs to escape with the lead still in tact, striking out Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez back-to-back to escape further damage.
“He ended up striking out two of the best hitters in baseball,” Francona said admiringly.