CLEVELAND -- It was a scenario that might not have developed earlier in the season. In the fifth inning on Wednesday night, the Astros called a left-hander out of the bullpen, and Indians manager Terry Francona did not hesitate to summon Brandon Guyer off the bench as a pinch-hitter.
With rosters expanded in September, an in-game chess match like that one can occur earlier than usual within a game.
"In July, when you have a three- or four-man bench, it's hard to do that," Francona said. "Now, you can. But, the guy has to be ready to hit, and [Guyer] is always ready."
That scenario was also one of the reasons Cleveland acquired Guyer from Tampa Bay on Aug. 1 in exchange for a pair of Minor Leaguers. Not only did the Indians envision him manning left field on days that a lefty started for the opposing team, but the Tribe wanted him available in a pinch, given his propensity for production against southpaws.
On Wednesday night, Guyer lived up to his reputation, pulling a pitch from Houston lefty Kevin Chapman into the left-center-field gap for a two-run double. That pushed the Indians to a 6-3 lead in a game that they would hold on to win, 6-5.
"That's valuable, having a guy you can get in there when they bring in a lefty, to try to match up," said Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who is left-handed and throws to Guyer during batting practice. "That's a great weapon. He did a great job. He won the game for us, really, hitting that double and giving us a little bit more of a cushion. That was huge."
Through 25 games since joining Cleveland, Guyer has hit at a .309 clip with five extra-base hits, 10 RBIs and an .869 OPS in 55 at-bats. Where the right-handed-hitting outfielder makes his money, though, is against lefties. Overall this year, Guyer has posted a .327/.469/.554 slash line in 128 plate appearances against left-handers.
This is hardly a new trend for the 30-year-old Guyer. In his career, he has hit .284 (.854 OPS) against lefties, compared to .234 (.641 OPS) off right-handers.
"He really hammers left-handed pitching," Van Burkleo said. "When I was just kind of looking up at his numbers and seeing the splits, they're pretty impressive over a long period of time. It's not like it's just recent. He's just got a real short, compact swing. His hands are really quick."
On top of that, Guyer has been ready when called upon.
"I've gotten into a pretty good routine, having to do this the past couple of years," Guyer said. "Anytime I can get out there and see some pitches, it's good. Whether it's against a righty or a lefty, it's good to be in that box and see some pitches."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. 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.