By Stephanie Storm
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: Lonnie Chisenhall punctuated his major-league resurgence in memorable fashion Saturday, belting his first career grand slam to lift the Indians to a 5-3 victory over visiting Kansas City.
Chisenhall’s sixth home run of the season appropriately came in the sixth inning and also gave him a single-game, career-high tying four RBI.
“It was probably the best feeling of my career so far,’’ Chisenhall said.
But before experiencing the highs of Saturday night, Chisenhall first had to suffer through the lows of struggling so much at the plate at the start the season, he was shipped back to Triple-A Columbus to regain his confidence as much as his swing.
“Nobody ever wants to go down [to the minors],” Chisenhall, 24, said. “But I knew at some point I’d start hitting the ball.”
Chisenhall’s humble, non-sulking attitude and desire to make the most of his time with the Clippers made his return to the big leagues come that much quicker.
Now, not only did the Tribe’s 2008 first-round pick quickly find his form in the minors, Chisenhall has continued his offensive hot streak with the Indians.
Since being recalled from Columbus on June 18, he’s batting .279 (21-for-72) with three home runs and 14 RBI in 21 games with the Tribe.
A bulk of that production has come in the last 10 days, where Chisenhall is hitting at a .330 clip (10-for-28) during the final homestand before the All-Star break, with two homers, eight RBI, three doubles and three runs scored.
So what’s been the biggest difference between the tentative Chisenhall that began the season with the Indians and the more confident player who returned?
“Now when he’s getting balls to hit, he’s not fouling them off,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Even in his last at-bat [Saturday], he got a ball up in the zone and drilled it to right center.”
That kind of consistent production at the bottom of the order helps lengthen the Indians lineup against opposing pitchers.
“Sitting down there in that eight-hole, if he [keeps] swinging it like that, that makes our batting order look a little different,” Francona said.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.