In previewing the Indians during spring training I wrote about how Terry Francona’s previous teams rarely did much running and suggested that “it’ll be interesting to see if the manager adapts to the skill sets he has on hand” in Cleveland.
Michael Bourn was a big part of that, signing with the Indians after stealing an average of 51 bases per season from 2008-2012. This year, however, Bourn has swiped just 19 bases in 101 games while being caught a league-high 10 times and the Indians as a whole rank sixth in the American League in steals despite having plenty of high-steal players on the roster.
I have no idea how much of that stems from Francona’s general mindset regarding stolen bases, but Bourn’s sudden inability to add value as a runner is pretty interesting in the first year of a four-year, $48 million contract. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked Francona about why Bourn isn’t running as much or as effectively, and “in Francona’s opinion pitchers are just paying more attention to Bourn in particular and the running game overall.”
I’m fairly certain that pitchers always paid a lot of attention to Bourn while he was stealing 50-plus bases per season, so that probably qualifies as a non-answer answer.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.