Second Thoughts Game #130: Indians 3, Twins 1
Despite four errors, Stubbs helps Tribe squeeze past Twins to win three game series
Player of the Game: Drew Stubbs (1-for-1 with the go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth)
It doesn’t matter how ugly it may be, a win is always a win no matter how you look at it.
Except for one swing of the bat by right-handed hitter Drew Stubbs and the arm of left-handed starter Scott Kazmir, things weren't so pretty even on a picture perfect day at Progressive Field.
Despite a season-high four errors in the ballgame, the Tribe squeezed past the Twins late, 3-1, to win the three-game series over Minnesota. At 71-59, the Indians are one win away from tying their season-high of 13 games over the .500 mark that they last reached on August 4.
Stubbs reaches new heights
Walking three times his first three at-bats Sunday, the only ball Stubbs put in play all afternoon went over the center field wall for a clutch two-out solo blast in the bottom of the eighth giving the Tribe the eventual win. Belting his ninth long ball of the season, six of his nine homers on the year have come in the seventh inning or later.
Getting more playing time in right field with Ryan Raburn banged up on the bench, he has put up some decent numbers over the last week. Over his last nine games, Stubbs is hitting .286 (8-for-28) with three doubles, two homers, three RBI and seven runs scored.
As surprising as it is, his season numbers compare almost identical to two-time All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera.
Cabrera (400 ABs) .238 9 HR 46 RBI 51 R 95 H 7 SB .292 OBP .388 SLG
Stubbs (370 ABS) .243 9 HR 41 RBI 51 R 90 H 15 SB .309 OBP .378 SLG
The 28-year-old may have already struck out well over 100 times, but he has certainly become a valuable asset when the team has needed him the most.
Kazmir bounces back
Coming into the ballgame 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in his last two starts, Indians starter Scott Kazmir bounced back strong against the last place Twins. The lefty gave up one run on seven hits through six quality innings, walking one and striking out eight.
Kazmir deserved the victory for how well he pitched and danced around errors, but he gave his team the chance to win despite another no decision.
It was the southpaws tenth quality start of the season, as the team improves to 9-1 when Kazmir gives up three runs or less and throws at least six innings a start.
Terror of errors
“It you would’ve told me that after all is said and done we would be up, 3-1, I’d say go straight to the casino,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said after the ballgame.
Even after pulling out the victory, it's hard not to look back at all the bad mistakes the Indians made in the series finale Sunday. A season-high four errors (it easily could've been six) by Jason Kipnis, Cody Allen, Kazmir and Cabrera each committed one over the final six innings.
And you thought watching the Little League World Series was bad, never have I seen a team try and give away so easily with that many errors. If Sunday's game is replayed ten times, I think the Tribe comes out with a loss nine out of the ten.
The team was 22-37 coming into Sunday when committing one or more errors, yet miraculously, are 1-0 when executing four errors in a game.
I know Francona and the Tribe always likes to focus on the next game they play rather than look ahead, and rightfully so, but we have to take a look.
The next nine games will certainly tell us a lot about this baseball team as the Indians are set to travel to play the best two teams in the league in Atlanta and Detroit for six games, before returning to Progressive Field for three games with the Baltimore Orioles.
After playing the Braves, Tigers and Orioles, who post a combined .578 winning percentage, things will get much easier as the calendar flips to September. Over the team's last 23 games, the Tribe will play opponents with a win percentage of .504 and lower as six games with the Kansas City Royals will be the best team Cleveland will face during the final month.
There’s no such thing as an easy September in baseball, but the schedule certainly favors the Indians down the stretch.
The only question remains, will we have another October to remember at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario?
With the victory, Cleveland (71-59) moves to just a game and a half in back of the Oakland A’s for the second American League wild card spot, and six games behind the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central.
Up next for the Indians: After an off day Monday, the Tribe will travel to Atlanta to open up a three-game series with the best team in Major League Baseball. Rookie Danny Salazar (1-1, 3.52) is set to make his fifth big league start Tuesday against Braves lefty Alex Wood (2-2, 2.50 ERA) at Turner Field. Tuesday will mark only the fourth time Cleveland will play a game in Atlanta since Game 6 of the 1995 World Series.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rotation stacking up nicely for the ATL series - Salazar, Masteron, Jimenez who pitches light years better on the road.