Second Thoughts Game #27: Indians 7, Twins 3
Kazmir notches his first win as Tribe wins sixth straight
Player of the Game: Scott Kazmir (6 inn. 5 hits 2 ER 1 BB / 7 SO)
Things are finally starting to heat up at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Sure the weather has been a pleasant surprise, but even more surprising has been the solid play from the Indians of late as they stayed red hot Saturday, cruising to a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins to win their sixth straight.
Once again it was a combination of a productive offense and solid starting pitching as the team scored at least six runs for the sixth game in a row. Coming into the ballgame having yielded three runs or less in his first five outings, Twins starter Kevin Correia would give up four runs in five innings, conceding the win to Indians lefty Scott Kazmir who picked up his first victory of the year.
Winning is Blue
During the six-game winning streak, Cleveland has now outscored the opposition 53-14. What’s even more impressive has been the team’s ability to consistently get quality starts out of the rotation, as starters are 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA in their last six games.
Say what you will about the offensive production or how great the pitchers have looked, the Tribe’s winning ways may have actually started with their blue alternate jerseys. Cleveland is an undefeated 6-0 in their last six games when wearing the blue jerseys, and the team doesn’t plan on changing a thing about it. Indians President Mark Shapiro even spoke out on Twitter postgame saying the team will wear the blue jerseys until they lose.
I for one have always been in favor of the team’s blue jerseys going back to the mid-90s Indians. Maybe this is just me, but I would love if the Tribe would lose the blue socks with the uniform and go back to the high red socks instead.
Even if you aren’t a Tribe fan, how can you not like the great comeback story of Kazmir? The left-hander notched his first win since Sept. 19, 2010 on Saturday giving up just two runs through six solid innings. Kazmir (1-1, 6.28 ERA) would walk one and strikeout seven, even striking out the side at one point in the fourth inning. On a team that desperately needs consistent starting pitching, it was nice to see the southpaw look like the Kazmir of old, this time in an Indians uniform.
Only time will tell what his future and the rest of the season will have in store for him, but it’s great to see the name Kazmir back in the win column right where it belongs.
Nothin’ but Swish
That sure didn’t take long did it? After missing the last two games with a sore left shoulder, Nick Swisher belted a solo home run on a 3-1 count off Correia in his first at-bat of the ballgame. It may have been the only hit of the game for the Tribe designated hitter, but to get back in the lineup and contribute like the rest of the team right out of the gate is important.
The Ohio State grad is now hitting .264 with three homers and 10 RBI through 87 at-bats on the year.
I can’t believe there were some fans out there who thought second baseman Jason Kipnis would be a bust all season, and even some who said he should be sent to Triple-A Columbus. What?! Well, all that nonsense talk can all stop now because the JK Kid is back and yes, we are all Kipnisses again in 2013.
What a series Kipnis has had so far against Minnesota, going 5-for-9 with a homer, two triples and six RBI. Over his last 10 games, the left-handed slugger is hitting .293 (12-for-41) with two home runs, six runs, eight RBI and five stolen bases.
I said from the outset this season that the second baseman does not belong in hitting third in the Indians lineup, but rather in the two-hole, and its definitely showed. Kipnis has hit just .138 batting third this season while hitting.278 batting second.
Scoring first = Wins
The Tribe offense would get on the board first again in Saturday’s victory, moving the team to 11-2 when scoring the game’s first run. When they don’t score first, Cleveland is just 3-11 on the year.
I asked Indians manager Terry Francona about this earlier this week, here’s what he had to say: “It’s a good way to play,” Francona said. “When you score first, and then you score next, that’s a great recipe for winning. It’s a lot easier to play without fighting back.”
Finally back over .500
For the first time since April 4, your Cleveland Indians are above the .500 mark with a 14-13 record. It’s been a long month, but in the words of manager Lou Brown from the movie Major League, “Things are starting to come together.”
In seriousness though, team chemistry is built and only grows stronger on winning streaks like the team is currently on now. Buckle up Tribe Town, I have a feeling this is just the beginning to a great Indians summer.
Despite winning six straight games and nine of their last 12, the Wahoo’s remain three games in back of Detroit for first place in the American League Central Division.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and breakout the brooms and win their seventh in a row against the Twins in the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Corey Kluber (2-0, 2.25 ERA) will take on Minnesota righty Mike Pelfrey (2-3, 7.66 ERA) at 1:05 pm.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.