Second Thoughts Game #129: Indians 7, Twins 2
McAllister and two-run homers push Tribe easily over Minnesota
Player of the Game: Zach McAllister (7 1/3 innings, 4 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB / 5 SO
Things were about as easy as they come for the Tribe on Saturday, as they cruised to a 7-2 victory over the last place Minnesota Twins to win their 70th game of the season.
Indians starter Zach McAllister (7-7, 3.51 ERA) held the last place team in the A.L. Central to just two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out five. The team also played some long ball against Twins starter Liem Hendriks (0-2, 6.20 ERA), improving to a season-high 36-5 when scoring six runs or more in a ballgame.
They say chicks dig the long ball.
Both chicks and the rest of the 26,870 in attendance went wild as Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis each belted two out, two-run homers to push the Tribe past the Twins early off Hendriks. With a homer each, both hitters are now tied for the team lead with 16 home runs
Despite their success, the Indians are the only team out of all American League contenders that still do not have a player with 20 or more homers. The team does however have five hitters with 15 or more home runs, the most in all of Major League Baseball.
Cleveland now hold a record of 49-29 when hitting at least one home run in a game.
E-Z does it
After winning his first game since May 23 back on August 13, McAllister is an undefeated 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts.
I don't think many fans realize how just good McAllister has been this season, and how great he can actually become. It's easy to get caught up in how well Tribe ace Justin Masterson is pitching, or want to see more of the breakout season of Corey Kluber and the power arm of rookie sensation Danny Salazar. While injuries sidelined him for almost two months, McAllister has kind of flown under the radar compared with his other teammates.
Coming to Cleveland in the Austin Kearns trade to New York, Z-Mac has arguably been more consistent than Masterson.
McAllister's last 40 starts: 13-15 with a 3.91 ERA (Given up 4 runs or more in 8 starts)
Masterson's last 40 starts: 18-16 with a 4.33 ERA (Given up 4 runs or more in 17 starts)
At just 25-years old, it's not out of the question McAllister just may be an ace himself one day.
No more streaking
After going a combined 0-for-39 at the plate over the last five games, both Michael Brantley and Kipnis ended their respective hitless streaks Saturday.
Said Kipnis after the game after finally breaking out of his 0-for-19 slump with a hit in the first inning, "Oh my God, I wanted to Ricky Henderson take the base out and hold it up for a second."
The Indians second baseman continues to feast off Minnesota pitching this season, now hitting .426 (23-for-54) with four home runs and 20 RBI against them. It's certainly no question how important is it that both Kip and Dr. Smooth continue to become a force in the middle of the Tribe lineup.
On a team without a legit cleanup hitter, both left-handed sluggers need to stay consistent and produce down the stretch if Cleveland wants any sniff of October.
Swisher delivers on giveaway day
Playing in front of a sea of white Nick Swisher jerseys, everyone's favorite Brohio member delivered with a two-run double to the gap in right-center field to put the game away in the fifth.
After struggling at the plate over the first four months of the season, Swisher has heated up late in August. Over his last eight games, the Indians first baseman is hitting .294 (10-for-34) with three homers and eight RBI. Say what you will about the switch-hitter, he is exactly both the player and person Cleveland needs to finish out the season strong.
Since manager Terry Francona has moved Swisher to the two-hole in the lineup, he is hitting .250 with six homers and 14 RBI in 124 at-bats.
With the win, Cleveland (70-59) stays 2 1/2 games in back of Oakland for the second American League wild card spot and six games behind the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central, as both teams were victorious Saturday night.
Up next for the Indians: Left-hander Scott Kazmir (7-6, 4.39 ERA) will look to help the Tribe win the series in the rubber match Sunday against Twins righty Mike Pelfrey (5-10, 5.19 ERA) Sunday at 1:05 p.m. The southpaw has given up five earned runs in each of his last two starts. Kazmir was an undefeated 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous nine stats prior.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.