Second Thoughts Game #35: Twins 4, Indians 9
Cabrera comes one base shy of cycle as Indians take series against Twins
An old baseball adage is pitching wins championships, but, of course, it helps to have at least some offense to back it up.
The Indians have had plenty of great pitching during this home stand as their starters have compiled a sub-2 ERA during this seven-game span. The Tribe managed to win five games and take both series, but one could argue that they could be on a seven-game win streak right now.
The lineup made up for lost time on Thursday, however, as they pushed nine runs across in a charge led primarily by Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley against Kevin Correia and the Twins' not-so-great pitching staff as they took three out of four in the series and jumped ahead of Minnesota in the standings to climb out of the cellar.
Player of the Game: Asdrubal Cabrera (4-for-5, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, K)
Hmm, maybe I should stay off the Asdrubal Cabrera bandwagon for a while. After publically denouncing the former All-Star shortstop on social media during Wednesday's game, he has gone 6-for-7 with a home run, three doubles and three RBI.
Cabrera and teammate Michael Brantley combined for six of the nine runs driven in on Thursday as they both came one hit shy of the cycle. For Cabrera, in particular, it was as close as the call of the official scorer as he made it to third on his fourth hit of the day, but the hit was ruled a double with advancement to third on the throw.
Even with four hits, it wasn't all great for Cabrera on Thursday as he struck out with the bases loaded in the third and also misplayed a couple ground balls. He was not charged with any errors, however, since they were considered non-routine plays.
I'm just as ready for the Francisco Lindor era to begin in Cleveland as anyone, maybe even more so since I'm working for the RubberDucks this summer and have the opportunity to watch the young shortstop phenom play every night. (Did I mention that he hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning last night?) But for the time being, if Cabrera wants to become a productive player again, I certainly won't stand in his way.
A Smooth Streak
After a brief dry spell, Michael Brantley appears to be back in form as he, too, came one hit shy of the cycle, but grounded into a force-out and lined out to short in his final two at-bats of the game. He did extend his hit streak to eight games and is now tied for third in the league in RBI with 29.
During his current streak, Brantley has hit .394 with two home runs, 10 RBI, two doubles and a .400 OBP. He has also only struck out twice during that 33-at-bat span.
What I've been most impressed about this season with Brantley is not just his newfound power stroke, but the fact that he is hitting bombs so effortlessly. Brantley said that the power has come from added lower body strength that he worked on building up during the off-season and even with the increased home run potential, it's nice to see that he's not swinging for the fecnes.
He is still doing well with runners in scoring position as he has now compiled a .333 batting mark with runners on base. Will he continue to lead the team in RBI? Hopefully not since there are higher profile run producers in the lineup, but he continues to prove how vital he is to the offense.
Magic Mike Rolling in May
It's a new month and a fresh start for the Indians and no one knows that better than Mike Aviles, who not only recorded his first career walk-off hit on Wednesday, he has 10 hits in 17 at-bats so far this month (.588). He has sldo recorded multiple hits in four of the five games in May that he's played in.
On Thursday, Aviles had three hits, including two doubles, one of which was on a check-swing. His hot start in May has raised his season batting mark to .328. He was one of four Indians players to rack up at least three hits on Thursday, but he was the only one not to drive in or score a run.
While the Indians continue to wait for Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana to find their groove at the plate and for Jason Kipnis to return to health, production from players like Aviles will certainly help keep the offense going.
Up next: Indians (16-19) vs. Rays (15-20) @ Tropicana Field. First pitch at 7:10 pm ET.
After a strong home stand, the Indians will hit the road once again and hope for better results. They will stay in the Eastern time zone this time as they head down to the Sunshine State to take on a struggling Rays team on the heels of a three-game sweep by the Orioles.
Corey Kluber is coming off another dominant start against the White Sox where he pitched eight innings while allowing only one run. Unfortunately, his effort was all for naught because John Axford blew the save. The right-hander had his only career start against the Rays cut short by a rain delay last season. He pitched two shutout innings while allowing only one baserunner via walk.
On the bump for the Rays will be young right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who has struggled since his first start of the season going 0-4 with a 9.17 ERA in a four-start span since then. Odorizzi is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts against the Tribe.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.