It felt like October in the air and the Indians may have kept their hopes alive for at least another day.
After winning the first game of a traditional doubleheader in blowout fashion, T.J. House and Ricky Nolasco hooked up in a pitcher’s duel, forcing the Tribe to grind out a tight 2-0 victory. House pitched seven, shutout innings and the Feisty Featherheads made the most of their one run in the game. The win keeps Cleveland in the postseason race as they head to Detroit for a pivotal three game series. Carlos Santana provided all the offense the Indians would need for House’s gem.
The Indians took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Santana hooked his 27th home run of the season around the right field foul pole. His solo home run gave the Indians an early 1-0 lead, and was his second of the afternoon. Santana homered in the first game as well.
House was in control, allowing a single in each of the first three innings, but never had concern of allowing an early run. In the first inning, he ended any threat with a double play and the next two innings the base hit came with two outs. After the third inning hit, House set down nine in a row, getting ahead in the count and attacking hitters. In the fourth inning, House need just nine pitches to set down the Twins.
Doug Bernier snapped House’s streak in the sixth inning with a base hit and Brian Dozier was hit-by-pitch to put a pair of Twins on the basepaths with just one out. It was Minnesota’s best offensive threat of the game, but House got Eduardo Nunez to ground into a fielder’s choice and Trevor Plouffe to ground out to third base to end the threat.
House finished his afternoon in style, striking out the side in the seventh inning. House (3-3) tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out eight, while not walking a batter. It was his third time in his last four starts that House pitched seven innings.
Other than Santana’s home run, Nolasco matched House pitch for pitch. The veteran, right-hander also set down batters in a row. David Murphy singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh but Chris Jimenez lined out and Roberto Perez left a dribbler out in front of the plate to end the inning. Nolasco (5-11) threw seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits while striking out five. Santana’s homer was the only mistake.
Caleb Thielbar took over for Nolasco in the eighth inning and the Wahoo’s were able to tack on an insurance run. Michael Bourn started the inning with a bunt single and after Jose Ramirez struck out, Michael Brantley walked to put a pair on with one out. Santana laced a single to left field, bringing Bourn around from second base to score and the Indians led 2-0.
Bryan Shaw worked the eighth inning and Cody Allen earned his 20th save of the season. Cleveland notches the win, moving to 76-69 on the season and are now 4.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals for first place and just 3.5 games in back of the final Wild Card spot
Friday the Indians will open their final three game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.69) will look to fire another strong effort in his rebirth to the starting rotation. He’ll be opposed by the Tigers’ left-hander, David Price (13-11, 3.33).
Photo: Mark Duncan/AP Photo