Gomes erasing '16 demons with steady surge

Catcher homers among two hits Tuesday to continue hot streak at dish

Gomes erasing '16 demons with steady surge

TORONTO -- For the first two weeks of this season, it looked like the nightmare was not over for Yan Gomes. All the misfortune the Indians' catcher experienced last year -- the injuries and offensive droughts -- were being followed by another painful slump to start his comeback campaign.

In Tuesday's 6-0 victory over the Blue Jays, Gomes continued to look like he has woken up. With one swing, the catcher eased the tension of what had been a tight contest for most of the night. Gomes got a fastball at his shoetops from Aaron Loup and pulled the ball out to left field for a three-run homer in the eighth inning.

"That looked like the Gomer of old," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

The good news for Cleveland is that Gomes' showing in this win -- one walk, two hits and the no-doubt shot to Rogers Centre's home bullpen -- was not a one-night wonder. Over the past three weeks, the backstop has displayed more discipline, drawing more walks than usual and chipping away at his early-season slump with a consistent string of hits.

In his first nine games, Gomes turned in a .067/.152/.167 slash line in 33 plate appearances, looking mired in a slump similar to the one he experienced a year ago (.167 average in 74 games). Over the past 14 games, though, Gomes has hit at a .378/.489/.568 clip in 46 plate appearances. The catcher has nine walks through 23 games, compared to nine walks all of last year.

Gomes' RBI double

"Really, it was just a matter of getting my mind right," Gomes said. "Once you start seeing things starting to spiral, it's hard to stop it. I tried to get out of a slump in one swing. That's not the way it's going to happen. You've just got to start trying to create good at-bats, so the situations you come [into], you're more relaxed and you can control yourself."

That mindset has in turn helped Gomes' approach.

According to Statcast™, Gomes hit .048 against fastballs and .111 against offspeed pitches in his first nine games this season. Heading into Tuesday's game, he had hit .333 off fastballs and .385 on off-speed offerings in the previous 13 games. Against the Blue Jays, Gomes went 1-for-2 against fastballs, and he collected a fifth-inning single off a curve from Mike Bolsinger.

"He's giving himself a chance more often," Francona said. "He's taking better passes at the ball, whether it's hitting the ball to right field and then, when he gets something -- like tonight -- he can drive the balls down."

For Gomes, it has been nice to move on from last year's nightmare.

"Really nice," he said. "It's been good. It comes from the point of just going up there, going in the box and making sure you just come out of this with a good at-bat no matter what happens. I think that's helped a lot mentally."

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.