"Tonight was obviously an extreme scenario," Indians right fielder David Murphy said with a grin. "But, it's fun to be a part of."
In the second game of this three-game series north of the border, Cleveland churned out a season-high 22 hits en route to a 15-4 romp over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Starter Corey Kluber gave the Tribe another strong outing, but his effort was understandably overshadowed by the Indians' overwhelming offensive attack.
Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall paced the lineup with five hits apiece, marking the first time since July 10, 1932 that at least two batters ended with at least five hits in the same game for the Indians. That contest was an 18-17 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics in 18 innings. In the defeat, Cleveland's Johnny Burnett (9-for-11) was one of three players to achieve the feat.
The Indians have not had a pair of teammates with at least five knocks in a nine-inning game since Johnny Hodapp and Luke Sewell delivered in a 24-6 win over the Yankees on July 29, 1928.
"You're not going to get five-hit games very often," said Indians manager Terry Francona, offering an early entry for understatement of the year. "But, just the idea of being able to try to have a chance to score every inning is important."
Murphy went 5-for-6 for the Indians, who scored 11 of their runs after chasing Toronto starter Dustin McGowan from the contest three batters (and no outs) into the fifth inning. Cleveland's right fielder singled home a run in the second, doubled and scored on a hit from Chisenhall in the fourth, chipped in an RBI single in the seventh, collected a two-run double in the eighth and added a run-scoring double in the ninth.
All in a day's work for "Big Murph."
"He strings together at-bats," Francona said. "Sometimes they're unique at-bats. [Rear-end] flying one way, bat going the other way, but he can get hot and he can hit good pitching."
Michael Bourn went 2-for-6 with an RBI triple in the ninth, giving him an American League-leading four triples on the year. Carlos Santana finished 1-for-4 with two walks and a towering two-run home run off McGowan in the fifth. Mike Aviles had an RBI single in the seventh, Asdrubal Cabrera (three hits) had an RBI single in the eighth and Jose Ramirez drove in a run with a single in the ninth.
Indians catcher Yan Gomes capped off Cleveland's bountiful evening with an impressive at-bat against Blue Jays reliever Neil Wagner in a six-run ninth. Gomes slipped into an 0-2 count before working it full with a mix of takes and six foul balls. On the 12th pitch of the matchup, the catcher ripped a pitch to right field, where it cleared the wall for a three-run homer.
"That was a really good at-bat," Francona said. "You've got a guy who's catching. It's easy to lose focus in games like that. He grinded one away and good for him, he ends up with a three-run homer. Good for him."
Murphy was also impressed by Gomes' effort in the latter stages of a blowout.
"Yan had one of the best at-bats I've ever seen in my life," Murphy said. "It just said that, regardless of what type of situation, he's not going to waste an at-bat. Those are the types of guys that we love having on this team."
Against Toronto, Kluber scattered four hits in seven innings, finishing with nine strikeouts against one walk and limiting the Blue Jays to two runs. Brett Lawrie delivered a run-scoring double in the fifth, and Jose Bautista came through with an RBI double in the sixth, but that was all Toronto managed against the Tribe's starter.
Over his past five outings, Kluber has posted a tidy 2.04 ERA to go along with 47 strikeouts and seven walks in 35 1/3 innings. During that span, opposing hitters have turned in a .215 average against the right-hander.
"I didn't really feel like I had my legs under me from the get-go," Kluber said. "So, I was trying to stay smooth, nice and easy. I did a good job in the first few innings and, after that long top of the fifth, I got a little tired and tried to start creating a little bit more. In the fifth and sixth, I tried to use my legs and kind of got under some balls."
Kluber retired the first 13 batters he faced in order before Adam Lind slashed a pitch from the righty down the left-field line for a one-out double in the fifth. On the play, left fielder Nyjer Morgan stumbled and rolled on the turf before gathering himself and retrieving the ball. Morgan was pulled from the game in the sixth inning due to a mild right knee sprain.
"My knee hit the ground," said Morgan, who had a brace on his leg after the game. "I hope it's not significant. I hope it's not a problem. We have to wait and just see where it goes from there."
Morgan had just entered the game in place of left fielder Michael Brantley, who exited in the middle of the fifth due to mid-back tightness. Brantley is considered day to day with the issue, while Morgan's injury appeared to be more serious. Francona said the team would know more about both players on Thursday.
In the meantime, the Indians will enjoy their win.
The game was the first in the Major Leagues this season in which a team had at least 22 hits. It was also just the fifth time this year that a team scored at least 15 runs in a game.
"That's a lot of fun, and I love seeing it," Murphy said. "This offense is capable of a lot. There's a lot of times where we'll get three or four runs early in a game, and we don't add on like we should and like we could. ... Tonight was a perfect storm and just one of those nights where everything goes well."