Center fielder pushes through slump to spark offense
By John McGonigal
PITTSBURGH -- Struggling at the plate -- and subsequently dropping in the order -- Indians outfielder Michael Bourn hasn't had the most ideal 2015. But perhaps Friday night will serve as further fuel for consistent optimism.
In Cleveland's 5-2 win over the Pirates at PNC Park, Bourn was an offensive catalyst, using a double and single to drive home three crucial runs from the eight-hole.
"That was really good to see. I was so happy for him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Those were big at-bats. You could tell he was pretty excited."
Finally, Bourn had something to be excited about.
Before Friday night, the 32-year-old had five hits in his previous 32 at-bats for an unflattering .131 batting average in that span.
It's not as if his season totals were much better. Entering the evening, Bourn owned a .228 average. Perhaps most disappointing, though, was his lack of production with runners in scoring position.
Moved from the leadoff spot after the season's first 15 games, Bourn saw more opportunities at the plate with runners on, but he didn't make good use of the chances. Bourn carried with him to Pittsburgh a .174 average with runners in scoring position.
But Bourn said he never let it get to him.
"I know at the end of the day, I still have to play baseball. By me feeling bad, that ain't going to do anything for us," Bourn said.
Instead, the left-handed speedster capitalized when needed against the Pirates. In the top of the fourth inning, Bourn worked a 2-1 count and drove a 92-mph fastball down the right-field line for an RBI double.
Then, after a two-hour, eight-minute rain delay, he provided his club with insurance, slapping a line drive up the middle to plate two.
Teammate Brandon Moss, who has faced his own share of struggles this season, was happy for Bourn.
"It's not easy when nothing seems to go your way. You have a good day, then you have three bad days," Moss said. "He believes that every day he comes in is going to be the day he turns it around."
Maybe for Bourn, "the day" was Friday.
John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.