After slow start, Brantley in groove at plate

After slow start, Brantley in groove at plate

ST. LOUIS -- With a fourth-inning single in Friday's opener against the Cardinals, Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He entered the game hitting .357 with 14 RBIs during the run.

While the 25-year old began the year batting .196 over his first 13 games, manager Manny Acta is not at all surprised by Brantley's recent success.

"He never changes his approach," Acta said Friday. "At the beginning of the season, even when he wasn't hitting well batting average-wise, he was hitting a lot of balls hard. He's continued to do the same thing, and things are falling into place for him."

Brantley was batting .289 against lefties and .277 against right-handers going into Friday's action. He has also been one of the club's most clutch hitters, hitting .338 with two outs, .333 with two down and runners in scoring position, and .321 when the Indians are behind.

While Acta doesn't believe in one guy "sparking" the rest of the lineup, the skipper couldn't deny that Brantley has the potential to change the game in each plate appearance.

"He gives us quality at-bats all the time, that's what we like about him," Acta said. "He stays even-keel, even when things aren't going well, and continues to work. But right now he's hitting righties, lefties, everybody."