What happens when an extreme ground ball pitcher opposes an extreme ground ball hitting team? Twenty one ground ball outs and an improbable complete game shutout later, Indians starter Derek Lowe knows the answer: Joy is something best shared and happiness this week is playing the Twins. Indians win, 5-0.
The Tribe scuffled into Minnesota dysfunctional losers of 5 of their last 6 games. Last night’s disquieting collapse/come back win briefly stemmed the foul tide but they needed a solid team effort to restore confidence and maintain the slim lead over Detroit. Lowe and the bats delivered.
The 38 year old Lowe gutted out 127 pitches (76 strikes), used 4 double plays and limited the Twins to 6 hits to improve to 6-1, 2.05. The complete game shutout was Lowe’s first since 2005 and only the 4th of his career. Tip of the hat to Antonetti on this one. Methinks he’ll need the brownie points later.
Initially the offense looked headed for another weary day of lost opportunities and poor situational hitting. Brantley and Lopez failed to advance a leadoff 2B by Santana in the 2nd inning until an unlikely 2 out hit by Kotchman delivered a run. In the 4th a leadoff triple by Brantley was wasted as Lopez, Damon and Marson failed to produce.
The worm turned in the 5th when Choo, Cabrera and Santana hit solo home runs. The Indians managed but 1 hit the rest of the game but the twin Twin wins salvaged the road trip at 3-3.
Silver Sluggers Today:
What to do with Choo? Hit him leadoff.
When Choo is on he uses the whole field and drives the ball the opposite way. Last night the game winning single went to center. Today he doubled to left center and stayed on an outside fastball to homer to left. Very encouraging.
Brantley also continued his recent surge with 2 hits, one a triple. In an interesting switch, Acta says he will keep Brantley lower in the lineup as a run producer and bat Choo leadoff.
Kotchman’s RBI single edged him temporarily out of ignominy and above the Mendoza Line to .202.
Lead Totem Today:
Damon drew a walk but otherwise failed to get the ball out of the infield, including a dribbler to the pitcher with Brantley on 3B and 1 out. Maybe Lofton isn’t such a bad idea . . .