Encarnacion’s two home run night lifts Tribe past Reds
Edwin Encarnacion talked his manager out of giving him a day off, and then delivered his best game yet for the Indians.
Encarnacion hit two of Cleveland’s four homers off rookie Amir Garrett and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch Tuesday night, leading the Indians to an 8-7 victory and a split of their two-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
The series moves to Cleveland for two games. The Indians have won seven of the last eight between Ohio’s teams.
The most encouraging development for the defending AL champions was Encarnacion’s emergence. They signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal as their biggest move of the offseason, but the slugger slumped so badly that he was dropped from the cleanup spot after 36 games.
Manager Terry Francona was planning to give him a day off in Cincinnati , where he started his career in 2005 and loves to hit. Encarnacion talked him out of it.
“I’m glad I didn’t,” Francona said. “I think he’s getting more dangerous. I think you’ll see — nights like this won’t be the only time.”
Encarnacion hit a two-run homer off Garrett and a solo shot for a 7-3 lead, his first multi-homer game with Cleveland . Encarnacion came into the series batting .207, but has felt better at the plate lately and wanted to play in one of his favorite ballparks.
“Yeah, of course,” he said. “I feel really good. I’m feeling better every single day.”
Francisco Lindor and Yan Gomes also had solo homers off Garrett, who gave up seven hits in five innings — all but one for extra bases. In his last two starts, the left-hander has allowed 13 runs and six homers in nine innings.
“I didn’t throw Encarnacion anything special,” Garrett said. “He just put a great swing on the ball.”
Carlos Carrasco was in line to move to 5-0 on the road this season, but Cleveland’s bullpen had an uncharacteristic meltdown in the seventh. Eugenio Suarez’s first career pinch-hit homer — a three-run shot off Bryan Shaw — tied it at 7.
Encarnacion reached on third baseman Scooter Gennett’s error in the eighth and came around on a wild pitch by Drew Storen (1-1).