So many times lately, the Indians have looked as though the game is playing them instead of the other way around. But in Wednesday night’s game against the Twins, the Tribe started doing things, good things, things that you need to do in order to win ballgames.
Did you see what they did there? They hit the ball. More importantly, they hit the ball with runners in scoring position. First two innings, 3-up, 3-down. I got a little worried in the 3rd when Salazar walked Pedro Florimon, who promptly stole second and then scored on a Brian Dozier double. The Indians’ offense answered back that same inning, scoring two (Mike Aviles and Nyjer Morgan, who both singled) on a Michael Brantley double. It was lovely to see the Indians actually get a fair ball with men in scoring position. Granted, when they weren’t hitting the ball, they were striking out, as Twins recorded 10 strike outs against the Tribe (9 by starting pitcher Ricky Nolesco).
Did you see what they did there? They made the big defensive plays. In the 3rd, Nyjer Morgan made a hugely acrobatic catch against the wall that gave us an out instead of allowing a hit. Seriously, for a moment he was plastered against the center field wall like David Letterman in the Velcro Suit. Carlos Santana had two key defensive plays. In the top of the 4th, Carlos Santana made a diving catch at third that , frankly, I never thought he could make. Santana has never struck me as what you would call “nimble,” but that catch was exactly the kind of play you want out of your guy at the hot corner. Then in the 9th, Santana caught an over-the-railing foul pop (which was almost ruined by an idiot in a tie-dyed T-shirt) to end the inning. Kind of makes up for the fact that he’s hitting the “Gentleman’s .140.” (I don’t really know what that is but sounds nicer than saying if his hitting slump were a swimming pool, it’d be deep enough to dive in.) In the 7th with two outs and two men on, Mike Aviles made a tough diving catch at second and got the ball the bag to end the inning. If the ball had gone through, another run would have scored. Did Santana’s catch or Aviles’ catch save the game? How about both? These were the kinds the defensive plays that have been missing this season.
Did you see what they did there? Danny Salazar had a quality start (just barely). He went 6.1 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts. If he can do that every start, I’ll take it.
Did you see what they did there? They hit (and sacrified) in the clutch. In the 5th, Yan Gomes hit a solo home run to make it 3-1. Then the Twins tied it up with two runs in the top of the 7th. At this point, a lot of Indians fans figured “Oh well, they’re gonna blow this one like they have so many others” and went to bed. If you stayed up, you were treated to Asdrubal Cabrera starting off the bottom of the 9th with a double, followed by Lonnie Chisenhall laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Cabrera to 3rd. A walk-off single by Mike Aviles brought Cabrera home.
Did you see what they did there? They won.
Final score: Indians 4, Twins 3. W: Axford (1-3) L: Fien (3-1)