July 31, 2014

Medina
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Indians 12, Reds 4: Asdrubal Cabrera powers Tribe to sweep

CLEVELAND — Father’s Day isn’t until June 19, but Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera got a jump on the festivities Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.

After playing with his 3-year-old son Meyer on the field prior to the series finale against Cincinnati, Cabrera celebrated the occasion by powering the Indians to a 12-4 victory and a sweep of the Reds.

The 25-year-old shortstop who is quickly morphing into one of the majors’ best at his position, enjoyed a career day at the plate, going 5-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs.

“Asdrubal Cabrera was a one-man show,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose club improved to a major league-leading 29-15 overall and a big league-best 18-4 at home (equals best start in franchise history). “He just took over. He continues to play like an All-Star for us since Day 1.”

Actually, Cabrera had help, the majority of it coming from leadoff batter Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo — the two players that hit around Cabrera (second) in the batting order.

Cleveland’s top three hitters accounted for 10 of their team’s 13 hits, scored six runs and drove in nine. They went 7-for-7 with five RBIs against Red starter Edinson Volquez, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings.

But it was Cabrera that stood out, setting career highs in hits and homers, while equaling a career high with his RBI total. The last Indians player to collect five hits and five RBIs in a game was Victor Martinez, who drove in seven against the Mariners in 2004.

Cabrera is healthy after an injury-plagued 2010 and has asserted himself on the level of the elite shortstops in the game, batting .302 with a team-leading nine homers and 32 RBIs.

“We do know that he is one of the best at the position,” Acta said.

“I don’t think too much about that,” Cabrera said of his standing among top-shelf shortstops. “I’m just trying to help the team win and have fun. (I’m healthy), that’s the only difference. My whole body feels good.”

The surging Indians are feeling good after sweeping Cincinnati for the first time in seven years, with the Reds entering the three-game set having won each of the last seven series between the intrastate interleague rivals.

“They are tough at home,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose team lost its fifth straight game on the heels of a five-game winning streak. “They’re playing good baseball. Whatever they needed, they got this series.”

After winning the first two games of the series with comebacks, Cleveland scored early, leading 7-0 after three innings.

Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first, with a throwing error from Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez scoring two more in the four-run opening inning for the Indians.

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (3-2, 5.16 ERA) was the beneficiary of the early support, getting the win after allowing four runs on six hits (two homers) over six innings.

Carrasco surrendered solo shots to Joey Votto in the first and Jay Bruce in the sixth — a two-run inning for Cincinnati, which closed the gap to 7-3 before Cabrera’s solo homer in the bottom of inning.

The rout was on after Cleveland scored four times in the seventh, getting RBI doubles from Brantley and Jack Hannahan and a run-scoring single from Cabrera in his last at-bat.

Despite seeing three players land on the disabled list last week — Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Alex White — the magic continued for the Indians, who are off to their best start after 44 games since 2001. They are 14 games over .500 for the first time since 2007 and own a seven-game lead in the Central Division standings.

“We’ve got a good team,” Cabrera said. “We know it, and we want to keep it going.”

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.