Lindor flirts with cycle, boosts ROY case

Lindor flirts with cycle, boosts ROY case

CHICAGO -- Election season isn't until November, but Indians rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor is on the campaign trail. On Wednesday night he took the stage at U.S. Cellular Field and provided a few more examples why he has a strong case to be the American League Rookie of the Year.

In the Tribe's 6-4 victory over the White Sox, Lindor launched a home run, legged out a triple and added a single, igniting Cleveland's offense. He has been one of baseball's hottest hitters in the second half, and he has three weeks left to continue building his case for year-end accolades.

"I'm glad people are talking about him," manager Terry Francona said. "It gives us a chance to brag about him a little bit. He's playing very good baseball. He wasn't here at the beginning of the season, but from the All-Star break on, he's been as good as anybody."

The discussion about the AL Rookie of the Year Award has gained steam in recent weeks, during which the 21-year-old Lindor has worked his way into the national spotlight. Given the Astros' place atop the AL West and given his own eye-popping statistics, Houston shortstop Carlos Correa is a heavy favorite for the honor.

The fact that it could come down to himself or Correa brings a smile to Lindor's face. The two were born in Puerto Rico, in cities roughly 60 minutes apart; they were taken in the first round of the MLB Draft one year apart (2011 for Lindor, '12 for Correa); and they reached the big leagues six days apart (June 8 for Correa, June 14 for Lindor).

"It's an honor, first of all, being mentioned for that race, the Rookie of the Year," Lindor said. "Having [Correa] in that race as well, it means a lot. ... And, also, another guy you can't forget is Eddie Rosario from the Twins. He's having a [heck] of a season, and he's working hard. And he's also from Puerto Rico, which I love."

In the first inning on Wednesday, Lindor sent a pitch from White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija to the wall in center field. He slowed as he approached second base, thinking that center fielder Adam Eaton had the ball, but when Lindor noticed the ball was on the ground, he picked up the pace, sprinted to third and beat the relay to the bag. In the fifth inning, Lindor crushed the first pitch from Samardzija deep to right field, where it cleared the wall, giving the Indians a three-run lead.

"I'm not going to go out there and try to hit home runs. That's not my game," he said. "My game is to make something happen, whether it's getting on base with a walk, a base hit, a double, a triple, whatever it is."

That approach has put him in the thick of the Rookie of the Year conversation.

"But I'm not playing for Rookie of the Year," he said. "I'm playing to make the playoffs and win."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for 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.