MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Will Craig said his recent 14-game hitting streak had much to do with luck, but he did credit himself with finding some patience at the plate. And either way you spin it, he said he's just focused on the next game in front of him.
A former first-round draft pick, Craig found himself in a slight slump in the middle of May before his uptick in the hit column. From May 14-19, he was just 3-for-21. From May 21-23, he saw a little glimmer of hope, recording six hits in 12 at-bats.
But when he went hitless on May 24 against Columbus, he easily could have fallen back into that slump. Instead, he went the opposite direction, giving way to a 14-game hitting streak that ended in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday night.
"Yeah, you think about it after the fact. Obviously, when you get on social media and stuff you see it," he said after Saturday night's game. "But it's one of those things where you get into a groove and you just keep swinging and you don't really think about while you're out playing the game. Whatever happens happens."
What happened was Craig, a 24-year-old first baseman, went a solid 21-for-57 over that stretch of games— good enough for a .368 average. Six of those 14 games were multi-hit games.
Over the same stretch, he smacked six doubles and belted three home runs, driving in eight runs in the process.
The streak came to an end after an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2 against Toledo Saturday night. Craig said he was OK with it coming to an end, but I still asked him to put it all into perspective and to assess why he thought he was having steady luck at the plate.
"I've been getting good pitches to hit, but I'm getting pretty lucky, too. That's part of the game. Some balls you hit hard don't fall and some balls you don't get enough of somehow fall. I'm trying to find a little mix between the two of those and swing at good pitches to begin with," he said. "For me, I'm trying to get my pitch and be patient and take it from there."
The next question had to be asked: How much does Josh Bell's success in Pittsburgh play into what could be viewed as some kind of urgency?
Ya know, Bell's hitting over .330 with almost 20 home runs and almost 60 RBIs in the beginning of June. And he plays the same position as Craig.
But Craig had nothing but good things to say about Bell before giving way to his rendition of being a team-first guy.
"I couldn't be happier for Josh. JB's one of those guys who is awesome to talk to and he's always got your back. He and I get along really well. Seeing his success is great, especially after last year when people really got after him and hounded him. Seeing him do what he's doing, you knew it was coming," Craig offered. "Obviously, being the same position as him it put's me in a harder place. But I can't control that. All I can control is going out and playing as hard as I can and giving Indianapolis the best chance to win."
For the season, Craig carries a slash line of .281/.535/.892 — all of which sit above his overall minor league career numbers. He's got 15 home runs and 10 doubles to go with 40 RBIs, which puts him on pace to top the solid 2018 season he had in Altoona.
His time in the majors might not come right away, but Craig's at least providing options and sticking with his game plan of becoming a better hitter this year.
TRIBE’S TOP HITTERS
Here’s who I’ve identified as the Indians’ top hitters over the past week:
Jake Elmore, UTIL —8-for-22 (.364) with three doubles and four RBIs.
Pablo Reyes, OF — 9-for-24 (.375) with two home runs, four doubles and six RBIs. Reyes is on a six-game hitting streak. For the year, he's hitting .257 at Triple A with five home runs and 17 RBIs.
Jason Martin, OF — 9-for-35 (.257) with three doubles and three RBIs.
TRIBE’S TOP PITCHERS
Top starting performance: Mitch Keller struck out 13 batters over five innings Friday night, the most an Indians pitcher has thrown since Ian Snell back in 2009 (Snell had 17). With that shaky MLB debut behind him, Keller is likely to be called up again this week. He's 5-1 in Indy with a 3.10 ERA over 11 starts. He's got 74 strikeouts.
Top reliever: Jake Brentz continued his solid season, picking up two more saves this week in two appearances. He pitched 2.0 innings, didn't give up a single hit, walked two batters and struck out three all while allowing zero runs. He's 6 for 6 on save opportunities this year and has an ERA at 1.62 with the Tribe.
THE ROSTER MOVES/INJURIES
6/5: OF Trayvon Robinson placed on 7-day injured list (L hamstring strain) retro to June 4.
RHP Jesus Liranzo cleared waivers and outrighted to Indianapolis.
6/8: OF Corey Dickerson ends MLB rehab with Indianapolis, reinstated from 60-day injured list by Pittsburgh.
INF Jung Ho Kang ends MLB rehab with Indianapolis, reinstated from 10-day injured list by Pittsburgh.
RHP Michael Feliz recalled by Pittsburgh.
The Indians went 4-4 over the past week, bringing their overall record to 35-26, good enough for second place in the division and a half game behind Columbus. The Tribe were outscored by opponents 33-32. The Tribe took two of three from Louisville, but dropped three of four against Toledo. Indy is off Monday, and the Indians return home to open up a six-game homestand with three games apiece against Buffalo and Pawtucket.
INDY FUN THING
You know I enjoy the Indians' Twitter handle right...?
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) June 8, 2019
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