Gregory Polanco just had to get Opening Day out of the way. Ever since then, he's been nearly unstoppable.
The The Pirates' top prospect tripled, singled and drove in two runs to extend his hitting streak to eight games on Friday night as Triple-A Indianapolis topped Toledo, 6-4, at Victory Field.
"He's continuing his progress, which we want everybody to do in the organization," Indians hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo said. "We want them to get better every day. He's doing that. He's not just sitting back and waiting for something to happen. He knows he needs to get better and develop."
Polanco was hit by a pitch in the first inning, the first of three times he reached safely. After tripling in the third, he capped a four-run sixth by singling home Chase d'Arnaud and Michael Martinez to snap a 4-4 deadlock.
"He's going to be challenged some [in Triple-A], which he needs," Pagliarulo said. "I think that'll be the best stuff, when he gets really challenged by some really good pitching, situations that he's going to face when he gets up to the big leagues. We're just waiting for that to happen and we're trying to get him in as many situations as we can."
Polanco continued to spark an Indians offense that ranks second in the International League with a .292 batting average. During the streak, the 22-year-old outfielder has five multi-hit performances and is batting .484 with a homer, triple, two doubles and six RBIs. He's got a .486 on-base percentage and boasts a 1.134 OPS.
"There are certain situations that I'm looking for, some key situations that he needs to be in," Pagliarulo said. "He needs to face guys that throw 97, which he did last night, and turned the ball around and pulled it for a double down the line. It's things like that when you're looking for potential matchups that are going to be in the Major Leagues and how he handles them.
"Whether he succeeds or not, it's how he adjusts to them that's key. Those situations will happen. They'll come about, and depending on who we're facing, the better the competition is, the better it is for him."
The Indians victimized starter Drew VerHagen and reliever Mike Belfiore (1-1) in the decisive sixth. Belfiore was charged with two runs on two hits and two walks over 1 2/3 innings.
Zack Thornton (2-0) earned the victory, spinning 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Jake Brigham. Indianapolis improved the Minor Leagues' best record to 8-1.
Mud Hens right fielder Ben Guez started the scoring with an RBI groundout in the first and Hernan Perez came through with a run-scoring single in a three-run fifth. Perez went 2-for-4 and was the only player in the Toledo lineup with a multi-hit effort.