CLEVELAND -- After watching Travis Buck's first two at-bats result in weakly-hit outs on Saturday, Indians manager Manny Acta had seen enough. Acta called Buck over in the dugout and gave him a quick briefing on his approach at the plate.
The pep talk on pitch selection worked wonders.
In the seventh inning, Buck drilled the first pitch he received from Cincinnati's Homer Bailey over the right-center-field wall for a two-run homer, providing the key blow in a 2-1 win for the Indians. Buck said Acta's message was clear and it helped in that third trip to the batter's box.
"It's more of picking your spots," Buck explained. "You've got to be able to swing at pitches where you think you feel you can do some damage, rather than trying to get a little base hit or just trying to basically put it in play. I never really had a manager come to me like that before.
"It shows how much he really believes in me. It made me realize that we get three strikes before we're out. It's OK to take a pitch middle away if that's not one you can do damage on.
"We give a lot of pitchers credit and, granted, there are so many guys that hit their spots. But sometimes they're going to leave a pitch out over the plate."
Over Buck's past seven games, dating back to April 16 -- the outfielder was at Triple-A Columbus from April 19-May 16 -- all he has done is hit at a .391 (9-for-23) clip, entering Sunday. Part of the success has been a switch to a bat with a thinner barrel. Buck is hoping the revamped approach will help, too.
"Everybody knows what I can do," Buck said. "I've basically been a gap-to-gap guy hitting it the other way the whole time. But I'm 6-foot-2, 230-pounds. I need to be able to pick spots [to drive the ball] and still have the confidence where I can hit with two strikes and still get a hit."