CLEVELAND: The top of the Indians’ lineup currently boasts three of the hottest hitters in the American League.

Those in spots 4 through 9 are trying to catch up.

Francisco Lindor (144, 11th), Michael Brantley (149, 9th) and Jose Ramirez (163, 6th) — currently slotted 1-2-3 in the order — all entered Sunday in the top 11 in wRC+ in the American League. Ramirez and Lindor also ranked third and fourth in baseball with 3.4 and 2.8 fWAR, respectively.

Since the lineup was shuffled to align those three in succession, they’ve carried the load as the Indians hitters have tried to support a struggling bullpen and keep the team atop the AL Central.

All three have remained among the game’s better hitters thus far this season, but the Indians know more support from the middle and back of the lineup is needed. Edwin Encarnacion, normally a hitter who heats up as the season progresses into June and July, and Yonder Alonso have suppled plenty of power, but nobody after the top three has put together an extended streak to match.

There was a glimpse of the desired balance in Saturday’s 8-6 win over the Houston Astros. Along with Brantley, Encarnacion, Alonso and Jason Kipnis all slugged home runs, the latter three accounting for three runs driven in.

“We know that, too, as an offense, we know we can’t rely on those three guys the whole time,” Kipnis said. “It’s too much to ask for. I mean, hell, they’ve almost done it, though. That’s how good the three of them have been, but we know we have a very good lineup and a very capable lineup, too. It was nice — Eddy, Zo, me, couple other guys have good games and give them a break for a change.”

There’s nobody in the Indians lineup who could use a positive stretch more than Kipnis, who entered Sunday with a .185 average, a negative WAR and two months of offensive frustration built up. Kipnis said his swing has felt better over the last week or so. If he can again find it as he has in the past, the Indians would welcome the added offensive support from the latter parts of the lineup.

“He’s dying to get going. We’re dying for him to get going,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Kipnis. “When we get guys like Kip and Edwin starting to swing it, I’ve said it before, we’ll have a different gear. Our lineup will look a lot different.”

Kipnis said he felt like he could have handled a pitch earlier in Saturday’s game but was late getting to it. Once he got it again, he launched it down the right-field line, potentially an indication of a turnaround.

“For about a week or two weeks, the swing has felt very close,” Kipnis said. “I knew it was just going to take one at-bat or one swing to kind of get that feeling back in.

“... I made the adjustment to get started a little bit earlier, make sure I was on time and to have the instant results right there to show me that was it. From there on out I was doing it the rest of the game and it was better at-bats, so hopefully it’s the start of something nice.”

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.