Lindor homers twice as Indians down Astros 6-3
HOUSTON, Texas — Francisco Lindor feels like he’s still finding his timing at the plate just a week into his season after starting the year on the injured list.
Despite this, Cleveland’s young star shortstop still had a big night at the plate on Friday to lead the Indians to a win.
Lindor hit two of Cleveland’s four homers and drove in three runs as the Indians got a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
He laughed when asked if it was a good sign that he could homer twice when he doesn’t feel like his timing is back yet.
“Yeah whenever I hit a home run it’s a good sign,” he said. “I’m finding it. It’s not like I’m completely lost because I’m not … I’m just not where I want to be. I might be a little greedy but that’s just part of the game.”
Carlos Gonzalez and Leonys Martin also homered to help the Indians to their second straight win over the Astros.
Tyler Naquin had two hits and his RBI double in the seventh off Hector Rondon (2-1) put Cleveland up 4-3 for its first lead of the game.
Lindor, who came off the injured list on Saturday, had a solo shot in the third off Collin McHugh and connected on a two-run homer off Josh James with no outs in the ninth.
The Astros had a couple of chances to score late but came up short. Michael Brantley hit a two-out single in the seventh and reached third on a single by Carlos Correa, but Nick Wittgren retired Josh Reddick to end the threat.
Houston got a leadoff single by Yuli Gurriel in the eighth when his line drive was deflected by a leaping Jason Kipnis and rolled into center field. But Wittgren retired the next three batters, with two strikeouts, to end the inning.
Brad Hand walked one in a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.
McHugh yielded just four hits in 5 2/3 innings but three of them were homers. He allowed three runs and tied a season high by striking out nine as he bounced back after allowing a career-worst 10 runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of an 11-10 loss to Texas in his last outing.
“We couldn’t keep them in the yard,” manager AJ Hinch said. “They did a good job of getting pitches to hit and doing damage. We put a lot of pressure on them early. They didn’t put a lot of pressure on us but they delivered with homers.”
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber allowed seven hits and three runs in five innings, the third straight start in which he’s given up at least three runs.
“I thought he competed like crazy and I actually thought his stuff played a little bit up today,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Adam Cimber (2-1) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.
Houston led early when Reddick doubled to start the second before Gurriel snapped a career-worst, 0-for-16 slump with a single to right field. A bunt single by Robinson Chirinos scored Reddick with one out to put the Astros up 1-0. Kluber struck out George Springer, but walked Jose Altuve to load the bases. Alex Bregman then drew a walk to send home a run and make it 2-0.
The Indians cut the lead to one when Lindor sent a ball into the seats in right field for his 100th career homer with two outs in the third.
Gonzalez collected his first extra-base hit this season and tied it up with his homer to right center with one out in the fourth.
Houston regained the lead when Chirinos singled before scoring on a double by Springer with one out in the bottom of the inning.
Martin tied it again with his home run to right field with two outs in the fifth. It was his fifth home run in April, which ties his career high for a month.
At 25 years and 163 days old, Lindor became the third-youngest shortstop to reach 100 home runs behind first-place Alex Rodriguez, who did it at 23 years and 16 days and Cal Ripken Jr, who reached the mark at 24 years and 356 days.
“He’s in that company,” Francona said. “The only thing he hasn’t done is accumulate years yet. He’s a great player.”
Gonzalez agreed and raved about his teammate.
“I’ve been around a lot of good hitters but Frankie’s special,” he said. “Frankie’s a different player. He’s just not a great player on the field but he’s just one of those guys you don’t get to see very often in the game. When he comes in the clubhouse it feels like the whole place gets really bright.”
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (2-1, 3.47 ERA) will start for the Indians on Saturday. He’ll look to get back on track after taking his first loss of the season in his last start when he allowed five hits and seven runs — five earned — in just 2 1/3 innings.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (2-1, 4.29) is scheduled to start for Houston when the series continues on Saturday. Peacock allowed six hits and three runs in five innings in a 9-5 loss to the Twins in his last outing.