Indians top Twins
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians have struggled with an inconsistent, under-productive offense this season, but Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, they had a rare outburst of hitting and scoring runs.
The Indians pounded out 15 hits, including season highs of eight for extra bases and six doubles, in a 9-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had four hits, with a home run and three RBIs, and left fielder Michael Brantley had three hits, a home run and three RBI. Right fielder David Murphy also had three hits, as did second baseman Mike Aviles, who went 8-for-11 in the four-game series in which Cleveland won the last three.
“Hitting is contagious. Today we leaned on each other and got a great win,” Brantley said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “They got a lot of slap hits and they beat it around pretty good. They were swinging pretty decent today.”
Right-hander Justin Masterson (2-1) pitched into the seventh inning to get the win. Right-hander Kevin Correia (1-4) started for the Twins and took the loss.
The Indians went 5-2 during their homestand against the Chicago White Sox and Twins, and while Cleveland’s hitting is showing some signs of life, it was the pitching staff that dominated the homestand.
In the seven games, the Indians’ starting pitchers were 4-0 with a 1.94 ERA.
“Our starting pitching gave us a chance in every single game, and that’s a good way to play,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
Masterson was dominant for the first five innings, holding the Twins scoreless on one hit while throwing just 50 pitches.
That allowed the Indians to take an early 4-0 lead. In the first inning, Brantley doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Murphy, the first of his three hits.
In the second, Cabrera clubbed his second home run of the season into the right field seats to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
The Indians extended it to 4-0 in the fifth, which began with a leadoff walk by first baseman Nick Swisher. Brantley then belted his sixth home run of the season.
“This was a big homestand for us. We needed to defend our home territory, and we did it against two tough teams,” Brantley said.
Correia pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and eight hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
“I felt good. Just a couple of walks and a couple of home runs,” Correia said. “I think I threw too many pitches the first few innings and it caught up to me in the fifth.”
The Twins scored two unearned runs in the sixth, a rally that started with shortstop Danny Santana hitting a ground ball back to the mound that rolled through Masterson’s legs for an error.
“I thought the ball was going to hop up, but it didn’t,” said Masterson, who also walked two and threw two wild pitches in the inning.
Leading 4-2, the Indians added a run in the bottom of the sixth when Brantley picked up an RBI while hitting into a forceout.
But the Twins knocked Masterson out of the game with a two-run seventh. Catcher Josmil Pinto walked to lead off the inning. Pinto went to second on a single by right fielder Chris Herrmann. Santana doubled, scoring Pinto, and Herrmann scored later in the inning on a groundout by center fielder Eduardo Escobar that cut the Cleveland lead to 5-4.
Masterson pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (two earned) and four hits, with seven strikeouts and four walks.
“The first five innings he was really in control, and after that he never really got hit hard,” Francona said.
The Indians scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh off right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Murphy and Cabrera started the inning with consecutive doubles, and designated hitter Ryan Raburn made it three hits in a row with an RBI single to give the Indians a 7-4 lead.
Later in the inning, center fielder Michael Bourn’s sacrifice fly extended the lead to 8-4. An RBI double by Cabrera in the eighth accounted for Cleveland’s final run.
Notes: Before the game, the Twins placed OF Sam Fuld on the seven-day disabled list with concussion-like symptoms. To replace Fuld on the roster, the Twins recalled INF Eduardo Nunez from Triple-A Rochester. ... After the game, the Twins optioned SS Pedro Florimon and C-OF Chris Herrmann to Rochester. The team will fill the two roster sports on Friday. ... Indians OF Michael Bourn, who missed the previous three games with a tight left hamstring, returned to the lineup on Thursday.