Indians hope pinch slam awakens offense

Chisenhall delivers game-tightening GS in 9th off K-Rod

Indians hope pinch slam awakens offense

CLEVELAND -- After the kind of week the Indians have had, they will take what they can get. That was not a win on Friday night, but Cleveland's laboring lineup did piece together a ninth-inning rally, creating some optimism that the team-wide slump might be ending.

In a 7-6 loss to the Tigers, the Tribe scored all of its runs in the final two innings -- capped off by a pinch-hit grand slam off the bat of Lonnie Chisenhall. The late flurry came at the end of another long and frustrating night for the offense.

Maybe, just maybe, Chisenhall's slam can create a spark.

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"You never know what can jump-start a team or a person," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Sitting around for three hours and then putting a good swing on it, that should help."

Late-game fight was a signature trait of the Indians last year, when the club went 14-4 against Detroit, captured the American League Central crown and won the AL pennant. That characteristic was there at the start of this season, when Cleveland swept Texas on the road and scored 11 of 21 runs in the seventh inning or later.

Since that season-opening series, though, the lineup has gone quiet.

During the recent series against the White Sox, Cleveland went 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position and scored seven runs in three games. Those woes persisted on Friday night. The Indians were blanked over six innings by lefty Daniel Norris and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position through the eighth inning. The Tribe's lone run to that point came on a groundout in the eighth.

"Normally, there is a couple of guys struggling, a couple of guys hot and then there's the guys in-between," Francona said. "Right now, we have a number of guys that aren't really hitting. That will change. I think we all hope it changes real soon, but you can't lose the belief in your guys because they have a tough week."

Cleveland's five-run outburst in the ninth was ignited by Francisco Lindor, who has been the exception to his team's offensive struggles. The shortstop doubled off the wall in left field, giving him a .316 average and 1.150 OPS through 10 games this season. Brandon Guyer was then hit by a pitch from William Cuevas.

Jose Ramirez and Yandy Diaz -- both struggling early -- followed with singles, bringing a run in and loading the bases. That set the stage for Chisenhall to enter with two outs, and he capitalized on his chance with a towering shot off Francisco Rodriguez for the grand slam.

"Guys before me had really good at-bats, getting on base," Chisenhall said. "I just tried to continue that. You want to keep scratching runs across, keep the hope going. I was able to put a good swing on the ball."

That is where Cleveland's rally ended, but the players hope it has a carryover effect.

"It happened a lot last year," Chisenhall said. "The passion, the fight, the on-base ability, it carried to the next game. So, we'll see what's going to happen tomorrow."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for 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.