Sands' slam highlights offensive outpouring

Pinch-hit shot one of Tribe's several high points in game, shows team is willing to battle

Sands' slam highlights offensive outpouring

CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer smiled when asked about the grand slam that Jerry Sands belted for the Indians on Saturday night. Cleveland is not where it wants to be in the standings, but that does not mean the team can't enjoy a good story, or an evening like this one.

"He's an easy guy to root for," Bauer said.

A packed Progressive Field had a surplus of things to root for during Saturday's 17-4 romp over the Twins, but Sands delivered the coup de grace that had the house rocking. In the fifth inning, with Minnesota's pitching staff running on fumes and leaning on the ropes, Sands grabbed a bat, came off the bench and smacked a pinch-hit grand slam into the right-field seats.

Sands -- elevated to cult hero status with a series of clutch hits earlier this season -- trotted around the bases as fireworks popped overhead. He is the embodiment of the Indians' current two-month evaluation period, and he has been embraced by the Tribe faithful. When Sands returned to the dugout, the expected chants of "Jerry! Jerry!" arrived, and a lineup that has been dormant for most of the season was alive and kicking.

The new-look Indians, who have been transformed by a series of clubhouse-altering trades over the past couple of weeks, do not look like a team that plans on going down without a fight.

"We've got a lot of strong personalities that can kind of handle doing what we're doing," Sands said. "There's some good guys and good teammates and a veteran presence. I think there's some guys in here that are ready to step up. I think we already have some leaders in here that are ready to lead this team."

Gone via trades are hitters Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brandon Moss and David Murphy.

All-Star Jason Kipnis is currently sidelined with an injury.

Still, Cleveland's current lineup -- one that would drop the jaws of the preseason prognosticators that pegged this club as a World Series frontrunner -- has pounded out 26 runs on 33 hits in the past two games. During Saturday's explosion, outfielder Abraham Almonte (called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game) went 4-for-5 with a home run, Jose Ramirez finished a homer shy of a cycle, nine players had at least one hit and nine scored at least one run.

Ramirez's three-hit game

The Indians are taking a close look at guys like Almonte, who was acquired from the Padres on July 31, and Sands, whose Major League career has included a cup of coffee here or there. Lonnie Chisenhall (being looked at as an outfielder after a career spent at third base) delivered an RBI single. Giovanny Urshela -- the rookie third baseman -- had a run-scoring single as well.

Chisenhall's RBI single

"Today was a really good, fun, productive day for us," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We saw some of the younger guys do a lot of good things tonight. Shoot, Almonte comes in, and those are four pretty good swings. So, that was exciting."

It was the kind of night that allowed Bauer -- clearly disappointed in his own performance, as his only reply to questions about his start was, "The team won" -- to smile about the good fortunes of his teammates.

Especially someone like Sands.

"That was great," Bauer said. "When you have a situation like that, and he comes up with a big hit to kind of put that game away, we were up pretty big, and then that was kind of the sealer, it was great. I'm pumped for the guy."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.