Second Thoughts Game #120: Indians 5, Twins 2
McAllister and Raburn give Tribe crisp win to tie series
A quality start
Since coming off the disabled list after the All-Star break, Zach McAllister has been working to find the consistency he once had before his finger sprain cropped up. He had shown flashes of his former self in his first several starts, but overall wasn’t quite back in the rhythm that the Indians needed him to settle into. On Tuesday night, the Mack was back. The right-hander pitched six innings while allowing only two runs (one earned) on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts earning him the win.
The biggest problem for McAllister in his return from injury has been throwing his offspeed pitches for strikes. That wasn’t a major issue for him against the Twins as he managed to throw them for strikes to both sides of the plate in order to set up his primary weapon, the elevated fastball, which he has been very effective in getting swings and misses with in the past.
With Corey Kluber down for the next several weeks with injury and Scott Kazmir likely getting only semi-regular starts throughout the rest of the season due to fatigue, the Indians are going to need McAllister to step up and find the efficiency he once gave the Tribe on a regular basis. Tuesday night’s win against Minnesota was a good place to start.
For over a week now, runs seemed to come at a premium for the Indians as they failed to find the ‘big hit’ when they needed it most. At the outset of Tuesday night’s game, it appeared that they would encounter more of the same as they squandered early opportunities to score multiple runs in an inning, but as the game went on, the Tribe continued to chip away at Sam Deduno and plate three runs to take a 3-1 lead into the sixth. Ryan Raburn then stepped to the plate with a runner on and one out. The first pitch he saw from Deduno suddenly found itself in the left field seats for a two-run homer.
Raburn, recently signed to a two-year extension by the Indians, now has 14 home runs off the bench this season with his two-run blast finally giving the Tribe the big clutch knock they’ve been waiting for all week. The Indians offense has been notorious for being streaky all season and can get red hot as fast as they go ice cold. Finding those key hits to get the lineup clicking again during a slump is the hard part. Here’s hoping Tuesday night’s performance sparks another hot streak.
A perfect night for scoreboard watchers
After being swept by Detroit and losing the series to the Angels, many were ready to jump ship and declare another second half collapse. Not so fast. Not only did the Indians beat the Twins on Tuesday night, every team ahead of them in the division and wild card standings each put one up in the loss column on Tuesday night, thus giving the Tribe a chance to gain ground in the division and the wild card race.
With the Tigers and Orioles falling in walkoff fashion, Houston barely hanging on to beat the A’s and the Rays and Royals both losing, the Indians move backi to second place in the AL Central and six games behind Detroit. Additionally, they work their way back into the thick of the wild card race as they pull ahead of Kansas City and now stand three and a half games off the pace for one of the two wild card spots.
Now, of course, one win doesn’t make up for a six game losing streak which cost them significant ground in the division race and possession of a wild card spot, but the perfect conditions on Tuesday night which allowed the Tribe to gain some of that ground back just proves that this season is not over yet. They still have a ways to go before they can play October baseball, but they are not out of the race yet, either.
Facts and notes:
- Ryan Raburn’s 14 homers are now the most in baseball this season by a player with less than 70 games played.
- The Indians announce they have signed former Blue Jays first-round draft pick David Cooper to a minor league deal. The first baseman had his strong 2012 campaign with Toronto cut short by a back injury which required surgery earlier this year. Cooper is a career .301 hitter in the minors and .270 hitter in the majors.
- Josh Willingham is now 5-for-7 (.714) against Zach McAllister in his career with three homers and six RBI’s. He’s also walked twice and struck out once in that span.
- With an RBI single on Tuesday night, Michael Brantley is now only five RBI’s away from matching his career high of 60 from last season. The Tribe left fielder is currently on pace for 74 RBI’s by season’s end.
- Top pitching prospect Cody Anderson will be promoted to AA Akron before his next start, Indians announce. The right-hander has posted a 9-4 record with a 2.34 ERA this season for High-A Carolina.
Up Next: Indians vs. Twins @ Target Field. 1:10pm ET first pitch.
Target Field has always been a house of horrors of sorts for the Indians, but they are looking to pick up a rare series win at the home of the Twins as they’ll send Carlos Carrasco to the bump in the rubber match of this three game series. Carrasco will pitch in place of left-hander Scott Kazmir, who will be getting extra rest between starts as he battles fatigue. Carrasco is 0-4 with a 9.10 ERA in six starts this season, but is 1-2 with a 2.97 ERA in his career against the Twins.
Minnesota will counter with rookie right-hander Kyle Gibson. The Indians have yet to face Gibson, but he is 2-3 with a 6.43 ERA in eight starts with the Twins so far this year. The Tribe has had trouble with rookie pitchers whom they’ve never faced before this season.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.