After spending over a week and a half trying to re-write Indians history with a string of futility, the Indians finally got back in the win column with a 6-2 victory over the Twins on a muggy Wednesday afternoon in downtown Cleveland. Oh, and the Indians beat a lefty(!!) to break their losing streak. Justin Masterson exorcised some demons throwing seven strong innings and the Indians took advantage of some awful defense from the Twins to get six runs and end this miserable losing streak.
Unlike the first two games of the series where the Indians squandered first inning opportunities, they cashed in on Wednesday. Jason Kipnis walked to lead off the game and stole second, prior to Shin-Soo Choo's double to center field to put the Indians ahead 1-0. The next batter, Carlos Santana, singled Choo home and the Tribe led 2-0. Masterson did his job getting the Tribe right back to the bat rack and they added a couple more runs in the second. Casey Kotchman got it started with a one-out single to right, just his 17th hit of the season off a lefty. Tsuyoshi Nishioka's day from hell began in the second. He committed the first of what should have been three errors, though he was only charged with one, with an errant throw on a Brent Lillibridge ground ball. After Kipnis struck out, Cabrera came through with a big two-out single to push the lead to three. Choo followed with his second RBI in as many innings to put the Tribe ahead by four.
Last season, four runs would have been enough for Justin Masterson, who was a different pitcher in 2011 than he is now. Not only that, but in two starts against the Twins, Masterson had allowed 13 runs in 11.2 innings. Today, he was much better, sans the home run he allowed to Alexi Casilla. When it's going bad, Casilla's home run was proof that it can go really bad. It was Casilla's first home run of the season and 11th career HR in 486 games. That two-run blast cut the Indians lead in half at 4-2.
But, Nishioka was there to save the day for the Tribe. In the sixth, Shelley Duncan led off with a mile-high, routine pop up to second. Nishioka lost it in the sun and it fell about 10 feet from him. Meanwhile, Duncan hustled the whole way and wound up on second with a double*. After Lou Marson executed a sac bunt, Kotchman chopped a ground ball to second. Nishioka's throw home was off-line and pinch runner Ezequiel Carrera scored. Lillibridge doubled to send Kotchman to third and he scored when the next batter, Kipnis, lofted a sacrifice fly to center.
It was smooth sailing from that point as Masterson finished the seventh, going seven innings, allowing two runs on just three hits, walking four and punching out seven. Vinnie Pestano and Esmil Rogers closed the game out by putting up zeroes and the Indians finally got to add one to the W column and stay a game above the Twins in the AL Central standings.
With the win, Masterson improved to 8-10. The loss sent Minnesota lefty Brian Duensing home with his seventh defeat of the season.
Without TV coverage for today's game, it'll take you a few minutes of checking Yahoo, ESPN, ESPN Mobile, CBS Sports, and whatever else you use to make sure the final score isn't a typo, but, I can assure you that the Indians did in fact win.
Stat of the Day: WE WON!
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson. Masterson followed Corey Kluber's good start on Tuesday night with a gem on a getaway day in Cleveland. He also picked up just his second career win against the Twins.
Tomorrow's Game: The hated Bahstan Red Sawx come to town to open a four-game set. Ubaldo Jimenez will take the mound against (you guessed it, a lefty) Felix Doubront. First pitch at 7:05.