Bourn gets back on track for Indians
CLEVELAND — Many have focused on Jason Kipnis’ great May in the leadoff spot in the Indians lineup, but over the past three weeks Michael Bourn has also gotten back on track.
Going into Thursday’s start of a four-game series in Seattle, Bourn has a .311 batting average in March, which is third-best among regulars in the lineup. Kipnis’ .447 continues to lead the American League and David Murphy’s .370 is fourth.
"It’s not one thing. It’s usually not something big. It’s usually something little," said Bourn when asked about his improvement at the plate. "When you’ve been playing for a while, it’s something little and you’ve got to get adjusted to it. I try not to get too high and I try not to get too low."
Over the past three weeks, Bourn has had a hit in 11 of the 14 games he has started. In Wednesday’s 13-2 win over Texas he was 3-for-5 with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. Since May 7, Bourn’s season average has improved 61 points to .248 as the bottom of the lineup is starting to produce.
The biggest change for Bourn at the bottom of the order is that he is getting more opportunities to drive in runs, which has slightly changed his approach at the plate especially on the first at-bat.
"I try not to think too much, but the situation is different. He might not start you out with something to just start the game off like he does when you’re leading off most of the time," Bourn said. "I try to relax, but it’s not always easy. I just sit there and try to just don’t try to do too much in that situation, just because you’re hitting somewhere different."
Since being moved out of the leadoff spot on April 26, Bourn is 24-for-80 (.300) with 12 RBI. He was batting .180 over the first three weeks of the season.
With Bourn’s consistency at the plate, there have been some who have wondered if Terry Franona would put him back near the top of the order. Carlos Santana has had his share of struggles this season but was 6-for-22 during the six-game homestand while Jose Ramirez bats over .300 during those times he gets to bat second.
Considering that the lower third of the order has been inconsistent, keeping Bourn down there could add some stability.
"He has been doing a lot better. He’s an important part of what we’re doing," Francona said. "We didn’t want to run away from him, but we also have to try to balance what we’re doing and who we have on our roster."
When Bourn was slumping, Francona kept him out of the lineup when facing left-handers but he played in three of the four games last week at Chicago against lefties. Seattle will throw lefties in three of the four games. Even more important is that the Indians avoid a matchup with Felix Hernandez, who went on Wednesday
Seattle is coming off a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay to even its record at 23-23. The Indians (21-25) were 4-2 on their homestand against the Reds and Rangers and are 11-11 on the road this season.