While it’s been the biggest surprise of the season, Cleveland Indians naysayers were ready for third basemen Lonnie Chisenhall to finally start to slide. Chisenhall came out of nowhere to hit the ball well over what anyone could have expected. Through the month of May, Chisenhall hit .369, a staggering number that no one felt he could keep up.
Not only did he keep it up, but he got even better, hitting .393 through the first 11 games of the month of June. Then, a weekend in Boston showed that even in the best season of his career, Chisenhall was mortal. He had a tough go of it in three games against the Boston Red Sox, going 0-for-10, striking out five times in the 10 at-bats.
Then after an 0-for-3 night on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels, Chisenhall was zero for his last 13. Enter Tuesday. The Tribe five-hole hitter got back to hitting in a big way during the team’s loss, first snapping the 0-for-13 streak with a single, and then going deep for the eighth time this season off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker in the fourth.
“It’s the maturation of Lonnie,” manager Terry Francona said after the loss Tuesday night. “Everyone is going to go through periods where you don’t feel good swinging, but his was short-lived.”
Chisenhall’s season has been one that the team has been waiting to see from the 25-year-old. He’s been their most consistent hitter, and since May 30 is hitting .387 (24-for-62) with six homers, three doubles, 23 RBIs and 11 runs scored. He’s overcome odds from being nothing more than a bench player on opening day to a player Francona needs to have in the lineup every night.
For now, it’s a huge plus to see Chisenhall back to his hitting ways. He’s sure to have a few more bumps in the road, but for now, he’s the best hitter on the team and the club needs him to keep hot at the plate as he has been for the first two and a half months of 2014.
Matt Loede has covered the Cleveland Indians for 20 years for National Networks like AP Radio, Metro Networks and other local and national stations. Follow him on twitter @mattloede.