In the first six games of the current 10-game road trip, the Indians struggled to score runs and, not surprisingly, lost most of the games. They lost five of the first six games on the trip, which concludes with a four-game series in Baltimore that began Thursday night with a 7-2 Indians victory.
Going into the game, only one American League team had hit fewer home runs than the 61 hit by the Indians. But Thursday night the team had an uncharacteristic display of power, belting three home runs, which were the keys to the victory.
The most important homer of the game was the first one, a three-run blast by Johnny Damon that gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo home run in the fifth inning and Asdrubal Cabrera added a three-run homer in the seventh inning.
The homer by Damon was particularly timely for the Indians, and not just because it gave them an early lead. After starting out extremely slow with the bat, Damon has begun to hit much better in recent games.
In his last 11 games, Damon is hitting .333 (11-for-33), with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. That hot streak has boosted Damon's batting average from .176 to .213.
Getting Damon going would be a huge boost to the offense. He was signed on April 17, having missed spring training, but after two weeks of workouts in Arizona he joined the Indians on May 1 and has been struggling ever since to get up to speed offensively. Thursday he appeared to take another step forward.
--C Carlos Santana did not play Thursday night due to tightness in his back. The condition caused him to be removed from Wednesday's game in New York in the ninth inning. His condition is still listed as day-to-day.
--OF Johnny Damon apparently just needed to visit one of his favorite ballparks in which to hit for him to have a big offensive night. Damon's three-run home run in the second inning gave the Indians a 3-0 lead that turned into a 7-2 victory over Baltimore. Damon came into the game with a career batting average of .313, with 21 home runs and 77 RBI, in 473 career at-bats at Camden Yards. "Some guys just feel comfortable in certain places," manager Manny Acta said. "For some reason Johnny sees the ball good here and good things happen for him."
--RHP Zach McAllister was officially recalled from Class AAA Columbus on Thursday. McAllister, who started Thursday night vs. Baltimore, will take the spot in the rotation previously held by RHP Jeanmar Gomez, who was optioned to Columbus earlier in the week. In 11 starts at Columbus, McAllister was 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA. McAllister got the win Thursday, pitching 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs in a 7-2 victory. "He's a guy who continues to improve. He sneaks up on people," Acta said.
--LHP Scott Barnes was optioned to Class AAA Columbus to make room on the roster for RHP Zach McAllister, who was recalled from Columbus. Barnes was recalled from Columbus on Monday. He appeared in one game, Monday night in New York, and gave up one run on one hit in 2 2/3 innings.
--INF Nick Hamilton, who hit .337 for Kent State, which made it to the College World Series for the first time, signed with the Indians on Thursday. Hamilton, the son of Indians radio voice Tom Hamilton, was the Indians' 35th-round pick in the draft. He has been assigned to the Indians' team in the Arizona Rookie League.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6-16 -- The Indians' record vs. left-handed starting pitchers after their 7-2 victory over Baltimore LHP Wei-Yin Chen on Thursday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's the guy we want to see at the plate with the game on the line." -- Manager Manny Acta, on SS Asdrubal Cabrera, whose three-run home run in the seventh inning blew open the Indians' 7-2 victory over Baltimore.
--C Carlos Santana (mid-back tightness) left the June 27 game and did not play June 28. He is considered day to day.
--DH Travis Hafner (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24. He had surgery May 31 to repair a frayed meniscus. He took batting practice June 19, and he began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Columbus on June 27. He is expected to play at least three or four games with Columbus before rejoining the Indians.
--LHP Rafael Perez (strained left lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 26. He was cleared to resume a throwing program in mid-June.
--OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April and took live batting practice May 16. His rehab was slowed again in early June, and there was no timetable for his return.
--RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He threw a bullpen session June 27, but it's questionable whether he'll see any action this season.