While waiting for their two new sluggers to arrive, the Indians swung for the fences.
Roberto Pérez homered twice, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis each hit a three-run shot and Cleveland capped a power-packed day with a 10-4 win Wednesday night over the Houston Astros, who added another ace before the trade deadline.
Perez hit a three-run homer in the second inning off rookie José Urquidy (1-1) and a solo shot in the sixth as the Indians stayed on Minnesota’s heels in the AL Central.
Santana connected for his 23rd homer in the fifth and Kipnis hit his ninth — accented by a bat flip — in the sixth as the Indians improved to 34-14 since June 4, when they trailed the Twins by 10 ½ games.
Rookie right-hander Zach Plesac (6-3) recovered after a rough few innings and won his third start in a row.
The Indians’ homer barrage came a few hours after the team acquired sluggers Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes in a three-team trade that sent starter Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati.
“There aren’t a whole lot of nights you get three three-run homers, especially against Houston,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I thought all of our guys played a good game tonight. When we beat Houston, we’ve played a really good game because they’re a really good team.”
Cleveland has been without a prototypical cleanup hitter all season, but Puig and Reyes will make it easier for Francona to fill out his lineup card.
“Those two guys are having a good season, you know hitting home runs and I’m looking forward to meeting them, man,” said Perez, who has been playing the past month on a sore right ankle. “It’s this time of the year when you get new guys in and you hope they contribute to the team because we got one goal and that’s to win a championship.”
Despite just their third loss in 13 games, it was quite a day for the Astros.
They arrived at Progressive Field as news broke that the AL West leaders had pulled off the biggest deadline deal, acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks for four prospects.
The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, Greinke adds more star power to an already stellar Houston rotation that includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. With a “Big Three” unrivaled in baseball, Houston has positioned itself to perhaps win a second World Series title in three years.
Cole said players were going about their pregame routines when manager AJ Hinch walked in with a beaming smile.
“There was some hooting and hollering,” Cole said. “We were very excited.”
Even afterward, the Astros were feeling great about what transpired. Greinke will join the team Friday in Houston.
“It’s a long day and an exciting day for us on the front end,” Hinch said. “Still a big day for us, just not on the field tonight. Couldn’t find a win.”
The Indians were equally fired up. They completed their own blockbuster, picking up Puig and Reyes along with left-handers Scott Moss and Logan Allen and 19-year-old infield prospect Victor Nova.
Puig could be facing a suspension for his involvement in another Reds brawl with Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, but his arrival with Reyes has the Indians thinking big.
“It’s going to be fun,” All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “It’s two power guys and two good hitters. I’m looking forward to the whole thing.”
The Indians went 18-6 in July, the club’s most wins in the month since going 18-9 in 1995.
Greinke wasn’t the only addition for Houston, which also acquired right-handers Aaron Sanchez, Joe Bianini and outfielder Cal Stevenson from Toronto. They also brought back catcher Martin Maldonado from the Chicago Cubs. He played with them last season, and was recently traded to Chicago from Kansas City.
Maldonado was surprised about winding up with Houston. He learned about the Greinke trade as he boarded his flight to Cleveland from St. Louis where the Cubs were playing.
“I know what kind of pitcher he is,” Maldonado said. “I caught him before in Milwaukee. He will go out there and compete for us. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer.”
It was the first time Cleveland hit three three-run homers in a game since Aug. 27, 2010.
Astros: RHP Ryan Pressly (sore right knee) was placed on the 10-day injured list. He was struck by a comebacker on July 18. RHP Bryan Abreu was called up from Double-A Corpus Christi and made his major league debut.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (broken right forearm) could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week. He will throw a simulated game Saturday in Cleveland against a group of Indians minor leaguers. Kluber was struck by a line drive May 1 against Miami.
Astros: Cole (12-5, 2.94 ERA) looks to continue his dominant stretch in the series finale. He’s 7-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 11 starts since June 1, piling up 100 strikeouts in 72 innings.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar makes his first major league appearance since Game 4 of the 2017 Division Series. An All-Star in 2016, he missed last season because of arm trouble and had shoulder surgery.
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