Second Thoughts Game #73: Indians 8, Twins 7
Tribe scores six in the first inning in route to their fourth straight victory
Player of the Game: Jason Kipnis (3-for-4 with a double, triple and 2 RBI)
More home cooking was in full effect for the Tribe on Saturday night as the Indians pushed by the Minnesota Twins for an 8-7 victory. The win increases Cleveland’s win streak to four straight now having won their last four series.
Offensively, Cleveland hitters would walk a total of eight times, where six of them would come in the first inning against Twins starter P.J. Walters (2-3, 4.88 ERA). The right-hander would hit the showers early facing just nine batters and throwing 46 pitches in just 2/3 of an inning.
Kipnis dialed in
Second baseman Jason Kipnis started the month of June hitting just .243 with eight homers and 26 RBI. Since then, the left-handed slugger has caught fire hitting .379 in June with a home run and 14 RBI.
Finishing the ballgame going 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBI, Kipnis fell just a home run shy of a cycle. No Indians player has accomplished the feat since former designated hitter Travis Hafner back on Aug. 14, 2003 against Minnesota.
Usually hitting second in manager Terry Francona’s lineup, Kipnis has filled in the three spot in order nicely of late. With shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera still more than a week away from returning to the lineup, there should be no reason to move the second baseman out of the three-hole until Cabrera returns.
Named the A.L. Player of the week last week, Kipnnis is now batting a season-high .275 on the year as the Tribe offense has flourished as he continues his tear. Who knows, if Kipnis can continue his hot hitting, fans just may see him represent the Tribe as a reserve this year’s All-Star game. It’s never too late to start stuffing the boxes and filling out ballots Bro-hio.
Making Twins pitchers work
Although it concluded as a one run game, the ballgame itself could be summed up in the Cleveland first inning. The Indians would send nine men to the plate and score six runs on just two hits in the inning against Walters.
Tribe hitters stayed patient early, making the Twins right-hander throw 45 pitches in the first inning alone. While they wouldn’t score, the offense would also make Minnesota long man Anthony Swarzak throw 29 pitches just one inning later in the second.
Good teams find ways to put up runs even without collecting lots of hits. Yes, Walters struggled to find the strike zone, but Indians hitters stayed patient at the plate and didn’t go up their hacking away early. Their strategy once again proved successful, chasing Walters out of the ballgame for his shortest outing of his career.
Kluber racks up another “W”
He didn’t have his best stuff, but Tribe starter Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.68 ERA) gave Francona and his team another solid outing on Saturday. The right-hander went 5 2/3 innings yielding three runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out four.
Over his last three starts, Kluber is now 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA covering 21 2/3 innings. The 27 year old has made quite a name for himself in the last two weeks, most notably named as the A.L. Player of the Week along with his teammate Kipnis last week.
Francona and the Indians organization will have a tough decision what to do with the starting rotation once Zach McAllister returns from the disabled list. With Kluber not going anywhere, my best guess (as long as Carlos Carrasco stays consistent) is that Scott Kazmir will be moved to the bullpen in order to make room for McAllister.
Pestano shaky, but picks up another save
Things would get a little close for comfort in the ninth inning, as closer Vinnie Pestano came into the ballgame in the ninth with his team up three runs. Despite giving up two late runs and throwing 34 pitches in the inning, the right-hander would notch his third save of the season.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Tribe’s interim closer held a 1.13 ERA with a .233 opponent batting average in his previous eight appearances. He has looked better since coming off the disabled list, but still has the ability to gain a few ticks on the radar gun topping out his fastball at 93 MPH.
He may have pulled his best Bob Wickman impression, but the bottom line is Pestano got the job done again for his third straight save. With that said, I shouldn’t see people ripping the right-hander on Twitter for not pitching a perfect ninth inning. Hey, how about Tito hands you the ball in the ninth to close it out and we’ll see how well you can do. Get lost!
Welcome to Tribe Town, Bro-hio
Even before it was named Progressive Field, the Indians ballpark has always been a magical place. Things have been no different this season as the Tribe now holds a 24-14 record at home, winning 22 of their last 30 games in Tribe Town.
Say what you want about the small crowds, Cleveland plays better at “The Jake” like any home team should. If the Wahoo’s can just play .500 ball on the road, this team will no doubt play in October.
Something to keep in mind as the season moves forward, eight of the Tribe’s remaining 11 games with Detroit will be played at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
With the win, Cleveland (38-35) stay just three games in back of the first place Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division. The team moves three games above the .500 mark for the first time since June 3, and have won eight of their last 10 ballgames.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will look to sweep the three-game series against Minnesota on Sunday, as Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 8.40 ERA) takes the hill versus Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 6.11 ERA) at 1:05 p.m. Carrasco will look for his first victory after tossing a season-high 7 1/3 innings in his last start on June 17, giving up just one run on four hits against the Kansas City Royals. Pelfrey beat the Indians back on May 5 when he held Cleveland to just one run on four hits at Progressive Field exactly seven weeks ago.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.