The Cleveland Indians have every reason to be confident heading into Game 5. While the team has dropped two straight games against the New York Yankees to bring the American League Division Series to a do-or-die final game, they’ll have a weapon available they didn’t have in Game 3 and Game 4.
It’s starting to look like slugger Edwin Encarnacion will be available for Game 5 on Wednesday. Manager Terry Francona hinted at that possibility Tuesday morning, telling Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com that he hopes to have Encarnacion back.
“I think so. He’s been hitting off the machine already. We’re going to have him run during the workout today. He’s never exactly our biggest basestealing threat, but we want to use common sense.
“He’ll do some running during our workout and we’ll gauge where he is. But I think he’s going to be OK.”
Encarnacion was spotted jogging in the outfield Tuesday. He looked pretty good, considering how awful the injury in Game 2 initially appeared.
Encarnacion also tracked pitches from Ryan Merritt.
Encarnacion has missed both Game 3 and Game 4 after injuring his ankle trying to get back to second base during Game 2. While the injury looked gruesome at first, Encarnacion was reported as day-to-day. With him out, Cleveland has not only lost both contests against the Yankees, but the team’s offense has scored just three runs over those two games. In the first two games, Cleveland scored 13 runs.
Getting Encarnacion back would be an obvious boost for Cleveland’s lineup. The 34-year-old hit .258/.377/.504, with 38 home runs, while hitting in the middle of the order all season. Even if he’s not at 100 percent, Encarnacion is a threat due to his immense pop and patience. He won’t have to run if he hits a ball out of the park, and he can take walks if his bat is rusty.
Encarnacion won’t be the only big-name batter trying to shake off the cobwebs during the contest. Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hasn’t performed well in the ALDS thus far.
Even with a struggling Judge, the Yankees have impressed the past two games. New York might have the momentum coming in, but Cleveland is about to get one of its most dangerous weapons back.
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