Second Thoughts: Game #138 Indians 7, Twins 6
|W: D. Huff (1-0) L: T. Robertson (1-2) S: C. Perez (35)
Player of the Game: Russ Canzler (3-for-4 with 1 HR and 3 RBI)
It may have very well been the battle for last place, but there was certainly a nail biter of a finish as the Indians edged out their Central Division rival Twins Friday night, 7-6. The Tribe would collect a dozen hits in the ballgame and already pick up their fourth win in September.
Cleveland starter Jeanmar Gomez would get knocked around early by the Twins offense, giving up four runs on just three hits over three innings. The Indians right-hander has now yielded seven earned runs over 8 2/3 innings since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus.
The Top 9.
- Canz this! Did the Indians finally find their right-handed bat they have been looking for in Russ Canzler? Not saying the Tribe won’t look for one this offseason, but I certainly think so. Canzler hit his first big league home run last night, a two-run bomb off Twins starter Liam Hendricks and also drove in three runs. Since being called-up to Cleveland Canzler has not disappointed, hitting .400 (8-for-20) with a double, homer and three RBI. And if that wasn’t enough, he is currently on a five-game hitting streak, collecting at least one hit in each of the five games he has played. If he can keep up his hot streak and stay consistent, there’s no reason why he cannot be the Indians starting first baseman or left fielder next season.
- Huff. I’ll be completely honest, I wrote off David Huff as an option for the Indians not only for next season, but entirely as a member of the Tribe organization. He certainly proved me wrong last night as the big left-hander went 3 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts out of the bullpen, sitting down all 10 batters he faced. Huff picked up his first win since Aug. 29, 2011. It also marked just the second time this season that an Indians left-hander notched a victory, the last coming from Nick Hagadone on June 19.
- Coming back from an early deficit. With the Tribe down 4-0 heading into the top of the fourth inning, the Indians would go to work and outscore Minnesota 7-2 over the final five frames. For a team 20-games below the .500 mark, it was great to see Cleveland not only comeback from the early deficit, but pick up the victory.
- Four Indians hitters with multiple hit games. Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantely, Jack Hannahan and Canzler each collected two or more hits on the night and combined to account for 10 of the Indians 12 hits on the night.
- Getting the leadoff man on base. It was great to see the Tribe jumpstart their offense early in innings, as the team would get their leadoff man on in five of the nine innings on Friday. There’s no question this is what helped Cleveland the most last night, as they consistently put early pressure on the Twins leading to a nice September victory.
- Scoring more than three runs. After being held to three runs or less four consecutive times coming into Friday night’s ballgame, the Indians scored seven runs on 12 hits last night as the offense went on a tear after being shutout over the first three innings.
- The Jason Kipnis affect. As I mentioned a few weeks back when the Tribe lost 11 games in row, Jason Kipnis is the player that gives the team success if he is producing at the plate. So goes Kipnis, so goes the Indians. In August we not only seen Cleveland post a record of 5-24, but the Tribe second baseman hit just .180 during the month as well. So far in September, the Indians have a 4-2 record and Kipnis hitting .346 (9-for-26) in the month, and is also quietly on a six-game hitting streak. Coincidence? I think so.
- Winning games on the road. There’s no question the Indians have not played very well on the road this season, posting a 27-42 record in away games. Maybe the team has finally broke out of their losing ways away from Progressive Field, as Cleveland has now won three of their last four games on the road.
- Late September push. Say what you will about the Tribe not playing meaningful games in September, but the team has not given up winning four of their first six games already this month. I think it’s safe to say Cleveland will win more than five games this month. In all seriousness though, it’s nice to talk about Indians wins for once.
- Perez picks up another save. Despite giving up a run in the ninth inning, Tribe closer Chris Perez notched his 35th save of the season moving him one save away from tying his career-high mark of 36 he set in 2011. He is now 2-for-2 in save opportunities since returning from paternity leave this week.
The Bottom 3
- Not stopping Willingham. The damage Twins outfielder Josh Willingham has done against the Indians this season disgusts me. Not only has he hit three home runs against Cleveland this season, but Willingham has also drove in 13 runs against the Wahoo’s, the second most RBI against any team in 2012. Yes, Perez, there’s no question Willingham would look great in an Indians uniform. What if?
- Letting the Twins back in the ballgame late. With the Tribe up 7-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, setup man Vinnie Pestano and eventually Perez in the ninth inning would both give up one run apiece to Minnesota late in the game. What usually is a routine scoreless outing for both bullpen stars ended up turning into a surprising rough finish, something that you won’t see too often.
- Leaving 11 men on base. In what ended up being a one-run ballgame between both Central Division rivals last night could have been much different if the Indians would have been more clutch with runners on base. Yes, the Tribe went 5-for-15 (.333) with runners in scoring position, but it’s hard to give any team much credit on the base path when they leave a double-digit amount of players on the bases.
With an Indians victory Friday night, Cleveland (59-79) moves three games ahead of the last place Twins in the A.L. Central Division. It’s hard to believe, but Saturday already marks the 17th anniversary of the Indians winning the 1995 Central Division title against the Baltimore Orioles, the team’s first Division title since 1954.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and take the three-game series with Minnesota on Sunday, as it will be Zach McAllister (5-6, 4.26 ERA) against Cold De Vries (4-5, 4.41 ERA) at 7:10 p.m. McAllister, made just one start against the Twins this season when he went just 1 2/3 innings giving up nine runs (two earned) back on August 6. The Indians righty is 0-2 with a 7.63 ERA over his last three starts. Minnesota rookie right-hander De Vries has never faced the Tribe in his career, and is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his last three starts.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.