Scott Kazmir won his first start since September 19th, 2010 with six strong innings and the Indians offense continued to slug away, as Cleveland defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-3.
The Indians have now won six straight games and have moved above the .500 mark at 14-13 on the season. They improved to 6-6 at home. It marks the longest winning streak for Cleveland since winning seven straight from April 26th to May 3rd, 2011. They have now scored six runs or more in six straight games, the first time the team has accomplished this feat since September 18th to 24th, 2005 (when the team won seven straight).
They have scored 53 runs now in their current six game winning streak.
Kazmir (1-1) was given early run support thanks to a return of the long ball. Jason Kipnis gave the Indians a 1-0 lead with one out in the first with a homer to right center off of Minnesota’s Kevin Correia. One out later, Nick Swisher followed with a blast of his own in his first at bat after missing three straight games with a sore left shoulder.
The Twins struck back in the second. Trevor Plouffe doubled to left and, after two quick outs and a walk, Pedro Florimon singled to left to score Plouffe from second. With runners on first and second, Kazmir was able to induce a pop up to end the threat. The Indians remained on top, 2-1.
The Indians bats picked up again immediately in the bottom half of the second. Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch with one out and Ezequiel Carrera moved him to second with two outs with a single to left field. Michael Brantley knocked a single to left to score Chisenhall and Kipnis added a single of his own to left to score Carrera.
With a 4-1 lead, Kazmir was able to settle in. He faced one over the minimum in his last four innings and gave up just a pair of hits (single to Joe Mauer in the third; homer to Aaron Hicks in the fifth) in that span. He struck out the side in the fourth inning, giving him four consecutive strikeouts and a total of seven on the afternoon.
“The second inning was a grind,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “To his credit, he got out of it with one. He gave up the solo home run first pitch to start an inning working ahead. I thought he really pitched. He started to throw his fastball in. That opened up the plate for everything else. Very effective.”
“He’s an easy guy to pull for. He loves to pitch. He wants so bad to make this work and he has really dedicated himself to that.”
Correia (3-2) exited the game after five innings. He allowed four earned runs on six hits and struck out four on the afternoon.
The Indians tacked on some insurance runs late, thanks to an RBI double in the seventh by Asdrubal Cabrera following a Kipnis triple, his second in as many games. Mark Reynolds singled Cabrera home one batter later to increase the lead to 6-2.
The Cleveland offense has been able to reach a Minnesota bullpen that came into the series with a 2.30 ERA on the season, the second-best in all of baseball at the time. The bullpen has allowed five earned runs in the first two games of the series in seven innings of work (6.43 ERA).
Cleveland reliever Joe Smith allowed his first run of the year in the top of the eighth, when Mauer scored from third on a single to center by Ryan Doumit. The Indians got the run right back in the bottom of the eighth after Drew Stubbs hit his fourth double in the last two games and scored on a Carrera single to center.
Kipnis was 3-for-4 on the day and finished just a double short of the cycle and was the on-deck batter when Brantley grounded out to end the Cleveland eighth. He drove in another two runs on the game, giving him six RBI in the last two days. He is batting 5-for-9 so far in the series against the Twins.
“I think [Kipnis] is settling in to the season. What he’s really doing, he’s playing the game,” said Francona. “Through the normal course of him playing the game, you’re starting to see all aspects of his game, where he lays down a bunt, or hits an extra base hit, steals a base. I think he’s just settling into the season and getting comfortable.”
Stubbs has hit in four straight and has four doubles and a single in his last nine at bats.
Mike Pelfrey (2-3, 7.66) will close out the series for the Twins on Sunday. He has given up four earned runs or more in four of his five starts this season and has lost two in a row.
Corey Kluber (2-0, 2.25) will toe the rubber for the Indians for the second time this season as a starting pitcher. He limited the Royals to two earned runs over seven innings in his last outing and earned his second win.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 1:05 PM start. All of the action can be seen on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images