The final installment of the battle for last place in the American League Central needed more than nine innings to be decided as the Twins and Indians played extras for the second time in the series. This time, though, they prevailed, taking home a 4-3 walk-off victory and salvaging the final game of the series against the Minnesota Twins before heading out on the road for the final road trip of the season.
It was a slow start for both teams on a sunny Thursday afternoon getaway day game as neither team got on the scoreboard in the first three innings. Given the pitching matchup, that was a bit of a surprise as Esmerling Vasquez and Corey Kluber put up the dueling zeroes the first time through the lineup. Both teams got on the scoreboard in the fourth. The Twins broke the scoreless deadlock with a gift run. Ben Revere dropped in a single to left and stole second. After advancing to third on a ground out to second, Revere scampered home on a wild pitch. Josh Willingham followed with a double, but never advanced past second.
The Indians took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a couple of runs. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana both walked to begin the inning. After Michael Brantley failed to advance either runner, Casey Kotchman drove in Kipnis with a RBI single and Brent Lillibridge followed with a RBI knock of his own. Jack Hannahan singled to load the bases, but Thomas Neal lined into a 9-2 double play, with Kotchman thrown out at home to end the inning.
The Twins answered immediately in the fifth with a Pedro Florimon walk and a Denard Span RBI double. After the Indians went down in order in their half of the fifth, Trevor Plouffe hit his 23rd home run to put the Twins ahead 3-2 and temporarily put Vasquez in line for his first win since June 24, 2011.
Vasquez would buckle under the pressure, however, allowing a two out rally from the Indians in the sixth. Kotchman doubled and Vasquez left the game. Kyle Waldrop entered and hit Lillibridge with a pitch on a full count before allowing a game-tying single to Hannahan. Vasquez left with a no decision when Thomas Neal struck out to end the inning.
Corey Kluber gave the Indians one more scoreless inning before turning the tie game over to the bullpen. Kluber went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Cody Allen bounced back from his rough outing on Monday, Vinnie Pestano threw a strong inning, and Chris Perez gave the Indians a chance to go walk-off, but the game remained tied into extra frames.
Esmil Rogers worked a clean 10th inning. Anthony Swarzak came on for the Twins and was immediately in trouble in the 10th. Shin-Soo Choo led off the inning with a double and moved to third on Kipnis's ground out to first. The Twins elected to walk both Santana and Brantley to load the bases for Kotchman. Kotchman delivered with a ground ball single to center for the Tribe victory.
With the win, the Indians and Twins are now tied at the bottom of the AL Central Division at 62-88. Esmil Rogers picked up his third win of the season, while Anthony Swarzak lost for the fifth time.
Stat of the Night: The Indians four relievers, Cody Allen, Vinnie Pestano, Chris Perez, and Esmil Rogers threw 61% of their pitches for strikes (35/57).
Player of the Game: Casey Kotchman had three hits in five trips and notched the walk-off winner.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians will head to Kansas City to battle the Royals. Justin Masterson takes on Luis Mendoza at 8:10 p.m.