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Encarnacion blasts three home runs in win

By PAUL HOYNES • May 3, 2018 at 2:21 AM

CLEVELAND — Maybe it was Michael Brantley's glorious, but ill-fated game-tying grand slam in the ninth inning on Tuesday night that served as inspiration. Or maybe it was just two days of 80-degree weather and a strong breeze blowing toward the outfield.

Whatever the reason, the Indians and Texas continued to hit the ball beyond the walls of Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon. The difference maker was Edwin Encarnacion, who hit three homers and drove in six runs to lead the Indians to a 12-4 victory.

Encarnacion hit a three-run homer off Matt Moore (1-4, 7.67) in the first inning and a two-run homer off Moore in the second. He ended his power show with a bases-empty homer in the eighth.

Like last year, Encarnacion has started the year slowly. He opened the game in an 12-for-80 skid, while hitting .091 (2-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

But when Encarnacion hits them over the wall in big situations, slumps seem to disappear. It was the 30th multi-homer game and the third three-homer performance of his career.

Lonnie Chisenhall was the last Indian to hit three homers in a game. Chisenhall's big night came on June 9, 2014 against Texas.

"That was so good to see what Edwin did today," said manager Terry Francona. "We've all seen how hot he can get and kind of put you on his shoulders. That was good."

The Indians led 9-1 after two innings, which meant Corey Kluber could pitch stress free. Kluber (5-1, 2.41) went seven innings for the win. He allowed three runs on leadoff homers by Nomar Mazara, Juan Centeno and Joey Gallo.

Seven strong innings from Kluber were exactly what Francona and the Tribe's tired bullpen needed as the prepared for Thursday's doubleheader against Toronto.

"You know how much I look at my pitching card," said Francona. "There were a lot of names on that card (who weren't available Wednesday). I thought Klubes pitched well on a tough day to pitch.

"Our ballpark plays so extreme. When it's cold, it can just suck up anything. And on days like today, man it was playing small. He gave up the three solos, but never let it get in the way of his pitching."

The Rangers hit eight homers in the three-game series, seven coming in the last two games. The Indians hit six, including five on Wednesday. Jason Kipnis hit his first homer of the season, a three-run drive to right in the five-run second.

Erik Gonzalez doubled and Rajai Davis singled to bring Kipnis to the plate. He hit a 1-1 pitch into the right field seats.

Francisco Lindor hit No. 4, the longest of the day by an Indian, 444 feet into the Rangers' bullpen behind the center field wall in the eighth. Encarnacion, one batter later, followed with a drive into the bleachers in left center.

Encarnacion has nine homers for the season.

The Indians, with their second five-homer game of the homestand, finished with 15 hits. Lindor, Encarnacion and Gonzalez all had three hits each.

Encarnacion, before talking to reporters after the game, recevied a Face Time call fron Albert Pujols. Encarnacion turned the phone toward the reporters waiting for him and told them to say hi to the man with 619 home runs.

"I talk to him almost every day about hitting," said Encarnacion. "He's a great guy."

Encarnacion says he's felt better at the plate the last few days. He said it helps the the weather is warming.

"I know what I got. I know what God gave me," said Encarnacion. "I feel very comfortable about myself. I know what I can do.

"It's about timing and playing. I know I'm going to be playing every day and I know I'm going to be all right."

What it means

The Indians scored 12 runs on 15 hits without the services of Jose Ramirez, who got the day off.

Ramirez is hitting .361 (28-for-78) with six doubles, six homers, 12 runs and 12 RBI since April 9. Was it any wonder that Gonzalez, the man who replaced Ramirez at third, went 3-for-4?

The pitches

Moore threw 94 pitches, 62 (66 percent) for strikes. Kluber threw 99 pitches, 65 (66 percent) for strikes.

Thanks for coming

The Rangers and Indians drew 15,637 fans to Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch was at 1:11 p.m. with a temperature of 82 degrees.

Up next

The Indians conclude this 10-day, 11-game homestand with a traditional doubleheader today against Toronto. The doubleheader is the result of the Indians and Blue Jays being rained out on April 14 and 15.

Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.08) is scheduled to start the first game for the Tribe at 1:10 p.m against lefty Jamie Garcia (2-2, 5.17). SportsTime Ohio is broadcasting the game.

Carrasco is 3-1 with a 4.80 ERA in six games, including five starts, against Toronto. Adam Plutko, just recalled from Class AAA Columbus, will start the second game.

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