Josh Donaldson found his power stroke at Progressive Field.
A few months too late for the Cleveland Indians, though.
Donaldson had two homers and four RBIs, Freddie Freeman added three hits and the Atlanta Braves pounded Cleveland’s pitching for the second straight night, beating the Indians 11-5 Sunday.
Donaldson belted a solo homer in the first and followed with a three-run shot in the second to continue the Braves’ dominance that began in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The Indians acquired Donaldson from Toronto late last season in hopes he could regain his swing for the playoffs. The 2015 AL MVP hit three home runs in September, but managed one single in 11 at-bats in the Division Series when Cleveland was swept by Houston.
Donaldson singled in the fourth, walked in the seventh and scored four times. He had the 17th multihomer game of his career.
“He’s one of the scariest hitters when he gets going in the game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I’m sure if you’re sitting on their side, you get excited for them.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Saturday he sensed Donaldson was getting close to a hot streak. The slugging third baseman made those words look good.
“You know what he’s capable of,” Snitker said. “He’s starting to get it going, which is nice.”
Atlanta outscored Cleveland 19-5 over the final 14 innings of the three-game series. The Indians won the first game and led 7-0 after two innings in Game Two, but the Braves rallied for an 8-7 win.
“They probably threw me 45 sliders yesterday in the doubleheader, so I figured it would probably be a slider buffet again,” said Donaldson, who was 2 for 7 with three strikeouts Saturday. “After I got one of them, I did get a fastball on the second (homer).”
Donaldson signed a $23 million, one-year contract with the Braves as a free agent. He has four homers and seven RBIs in 21 games. Donaldson continued his success at Progressive Field, where he has 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 32 career games.
“I like it here,” he said. “I like the park. It sets up pretty well for me. I didn’t see the ball well yesterday, but I did again tonight.”
Donaldson, the game’s second hitter, homered to center on a 1-1 pitch. His second-inning blast landed in the left field bleachers and gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead.
Max Fried (3-0) allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander walked the bases loaded in the first but retired Jason Kipnis on a flyball to end the inning.
Indians starter Shane Bieber (2-1) was charged with seven runs (five earned) in 2 1/3 innings.
Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, playing his second game since returning from an ankle injury, hit a one-out homer in the seventh — the 99th of his career. He committed an error on Brian McCann’s grounder in the first.
The lopsided loss came on Francona’s 60th birthday. Cleveland used seven pitchers, including catcher Kevin Plawecki, who retired the side in order in the ninth on two grounders and a flyball.
Freeman has reached base in all 21 games this season.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Plawecki pitched twice for the New York Mets in 2017. He pointed out that Sunday’s performance dropped his career ERA from 12.00 to 9.00.
Plawecki used the glove of pitcher Mike Clevinger, who didn’t give up a run in two starts before going on the injured list with a back injury.
“He’s got zeros in that thing so I figured while he was out I might as well use it,” Plawecki said.
Fried regrouped after his shaky first inning. He didn’t walk another batter and kept the Indians scoreless until the seventh.
“I just tried to treat the second inning like it was a new game and not give them any more walks,” he said. “If they were going to do it, they’re going to have to earn it. It was just a mentality and trusting my stuff.”
Braves: RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 2.75 ERA) will pitch the opener of three-game series opener Tuesday in Cincinnati.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 7.41 ERA) will start against Miami as Cleveland wraps up its homestand with a two-game series beginning Tuesday.