TORONTO: Earlier this season, Lonnie Chisenhall turned in a career-best four-hit game against the Detroit Tigers. On Wednesday night in Rogers Centre, he surpassed that.
The third baseman and designated hitter went 5-for-6 with a double and an RBI as the Indians totaled 22 hits in a 15-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
In spring training, some wondered if Chisenhall, a first-round pick in 2008, would make the team. Now Tribe manager Terry Francona is trying to find ways to keep Chisenhall and his .357 average in the lineup.
“You’re seeing a kid grow up,” Francona said. “He’s running the bases way better than he ever has. He’s confident, not just when he gets a hit, but when he’s going first to third.
“You see it in the minor leagues all the time; it’s a little more rare at the big-league level. I pulled him aside one game, I think it was the eighth inning and we were kind of hanging on. I said, ‘Lonnie, I’m so darn proud of you. I want to tell you now because if we lose, I’m not going to be in the mood.’ I’m proud of how he’s working to be a better player.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chisenhall and right fielder David Murphy became the first Indians teammates to collect five hits in a nine-inning game since Johnny Hodapp and Luke Sewell did it against the New York Yankees on July 29, 1928. It hadn’t happened in any game since Johnny Burnett, Earl Averill and Ed Morgan collected five each on July 10, 1932, in an 18-inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Asked if it was a night he’d always remember, Chisenhall said: “There’s no way to know. It was a personal best for me, but you’re just trying to win the game. Personal success comes second. Fifteen runs and 22 hits is impressive no matter if it’s here, college or high school. It was a fun night.”
ABOUT THAT AT-BAT — Catcher Yan Gomes still sounded surprised he survived a 12-pitch at-bat with Jays’ right-hander Neil Wagner in the ninth inning Wednesday, then hit a three-run homer to right field.
“I had to come in here and ask how many pitches it was. It felt like 100,” Gomes said. “I was a pitch or two away from saying, ‘Screw it, I’m going to take whatever comes next, I’m not going to swing.’ I think if I take that pitch, it’s ball four. I ended up impressing myself; I had no idea how I did that.”
Gomes said he didn’t want to end up 1 for 6.
“The guy in front of me [Murphy] has five hits and the guy behind me [Chisenhall] has five hits. You want to join in a little bit,” Gomes said. “Credit to [Wagner] he kept making good pitches and it just happened to go my way.”
According to MLB.com, Gomes’ homer was one of four by an Indian that came on 12-plus pitches since 1992 (when Baseball-Reference.com began keeping the counts). One of the four, a 15-pitch blast by Carlos Baerga in 1995, came off Gomes’ father-in-law Atlee Hammaker.
BOURN OUTBURST — Center fielder Michael Bourn uncharacteristically argued a strikeout call with home plate umpire Jerry Meals in the fourth inning Wednesday and Francona came out to separate them.
“He said the umpire cursed at him,” Francona said of Bourn. “I told the umpire, ‘You probably shouldn’t do that. Whether you’re right or wrong on a call, you have an obligation to stay away from that.’ I’m sure that’s why he gave Bournie some leeway.”
— Marla Ridenour