May 2, 2018 – Encarnacion’s Three Homer Afternoon
This game is the first in the series that I saw in person. Driving home from a late day at work Tuesday night, Tom Hamilton was previewing the next day’s game. “Wednesday afternoon. Beautiful Spring weather. Corey Kluber on the mound. Be here if you can find a way.”
I couldn’t agree more. In my estimation, one of the best feelings in the world is standing at the bus stop with a half day of work behind you and half a day of baseball ahead of you. So, I sent a message to my boss marking the next afternoon out.
It was a perfect early May day with temperatures in the 80s, abundant sunshine, and a stiff breeze out to right field that would certainly come into play. The previous evening, the Rangers topped the Indians 8-6 in twelve innings and appeared to be eager to get back to Texas.
Kluber came out firing, retiring the Rangers in order with strikeouts against Delino DeShields and Jurickson Profar.
Rajai Davis grounded out to lead off the game, but the Indians office got spun up quickly. Jason Kipnis lofted a double down the left field line. Francisco Lindor shot a grounder through the right side of the infield, advancing Kipnis to third. Michael Brantley scored Kipnis on another ground ball single. Edwin Encarnacion stepped in and rocked a three-run home run halfway up the bleachers. Yonder Alonso and Brandon Guyer both lined out to end the inning.
My cousin and I often text each other during ballgames to alert the other that exciting things are happening. He was a huge Encarnacion fan during Eddie’s tenure in Cleveland. A single-character message–the bird emoji–had become our shorthand for an Encarnacion home run, in reference to his “parrot ride” gesture. I quickly fired off a message between innings to my cousin who was still at work.
Kluber would rarely miss today, but in the top of the 2nd, Nomar Mazara caught hold of the 2-1 pitch, driving a homer to right center and making it a 4-1 game.
In the bottom of the second, Erik Gonzalez and Rajai Davis got aboard with one out. Jason Kipnis launched a home run over the right field wall for the Tribe’s second three-run home run of the game. With two outs and Lindor on second, Encarnacion sent Matt Moore’s first pitch over the right field wall in front of the bullpens. At the end of the inning I picked up my phone.
was already in my inbox.
In the top of the 3rd, Kluber once again gave up a leadoff home run–this time to Juan Centeno. The Rangers would eventually get runners to first and second, but Kluber would work his way out of the threat with the score 9-2.
Kluber retired the Rangers in order in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. In the seventh, he gave up yet another leadoff homerun to Joey Gallo. He would retire the next three Rangers and finish the day giving up 6 hits, three runs, and recording six strikeouts.
Dan Otero took the mound in the 8th and gave up the only run the Rangers scored by way other than the longball. Former Indian Shin-Soo Choo drove in Drew Robinson with a sharp single up the middle.
In the bottom of the 8th, Francisco Lindor would tee off into the wind, sending a home run into the bullpen.. Two batters later, with two outs in the 8th, Encarnacion ripped a third homer, once again into the bleachers.
I didn’t wait for the end of the inning this time:
Quickly a reply came in: AGAIN? I should have taken off work.