Cabrera, Masterson Help Lead Tribe to Third Straight Win; Indians 9, Twins 4
Craig Gifford | On 08, May 2014
Less than two years ago, in July of 2012, Asdrubal Cabrera was highly thought of. The shortstop was coming off his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance and was widely considered the best player on the Indians. Ever since, times have been tough. Cabrera has struggled to get much going on offense.
On Thursday afternoon, at Progressive Field, Cabrera looked like the team’s offensive leader of old. He had four hits, including a home run, and three RBI in helping the Tribe to a 9-4 romp over Central Division rival Minnesota. Cabrera also had a single and a pair of doubles, coming just a triple shy of his first career cycle. Cabrera reached third on his second two-bagger, but the hit was ruled a double as he went to throw on a play at home plate.
“To show how smart I am, I was going to give (Cabrera) the day off,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after the game. “He talked me out of it.”
It was Cleveland’s third straight victory and fifth in seven games as the Indians took three of four in their series with the Twins. The Tribe finished off its seven-game homestand at 5-2, helping to ease the pain of a preceeding 0-6 west coast road trip. Cleveland is now 16-19 on the season.
A big part of Cleveland’s recent success has been its starting pitching. A struggling unit through the first few weeks of the year, the starting five turned things around on this trip home. Ace Justin Masterson got the good run going with a gem on Saturday and was very good again on Thursday. The Indians had good pitching through the homestand and could have gone unbeaten had it not been for a couple late-game bullpen meltdowns.
“Our pitching gave us a chance every single game (of the homestand) and that’s a good way to play,” Francona said. “When you pitch that consistently, you have a good chance to win.”
Against the Twins, Masterson picked up his second win. He pitched 6 and one-third innings, allowing four runs, two were earned, striking out seven and surrendering four hits. It was not as sharp as his lights-out performance of a little over a week ago, though it seemed like it would be through the first five innings. It was not until the sixth and seventh when things began to unravel a bit for the Cleveland ace.
“He was so in control the first five innings,” Francona said. “He never really got hit hard.”
Offensively, Cabrera led the Indians, but he was certainly not alone in hanging nine runs on the Twins. David Murphy and Michael Brantley provided huge days, as well. Both collected three hits. Brantley had three RBI, while Murphy had one.
It was Murphy who got the scoring started with his first of two doubles in the first inning, putting Cleveland up 1-0. Cabrera knocked second home run of the season in the second, putting the Tribe up 2-0.
Brantley delivered home run number six in the fifth inning. It put the Indians up 4-0. At that point, it appeared the route might be on. However, it seemed as though the Indians would need all the runs they could get as the Twins kept things close into the seventh inning.
Minnesota chipped away at Cleveland’s lead, scoring two unearned runs off Masterson in the sixth. The Tribe stretched it back to 5-2 with a run on a Brantley fielder’s choice. The Twins, however, got to within a run with two more tallies in their half of the seventh as Masterson began to show signs of tiring.
However, in a game that looked to be slipping away, the Tribe’s offense stepped up and took control. Cleveland stopped any momentum the Twins may have been gaining with a three-run seventh. Cabrera, Ryan Raburn and Michael Bourn each had an RBI in the frame. Cabrera’s come on his first double, while Raburn had a single and Bourn came through with a sacrifice fly. The 8-4 lead was too much for the Twins at that point as Cleveland’s bullpen kept the visitor’s off the board the rest of the way.
The Indians tacked on one more in the eighth as Cabrera again doubled. Murphy beat a throw to the plate to score. While he was scoring, Cabrera continued to head toward third. However, the hit was ruled a double, though Francona said he has hopes the play will be reviewed a Cabrera may be granted the triple he needed for the cycle.
Cycle or no cycle, the Indians got just what they needed in their seven home games. Momentum was much needed as the Tribe heads out of town for three games in Tampa and three in Toronto. The road trip will begin Friday night as Cleveland will send Corey Kluber to the mound against the Rays Jake Odorizzi. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m.