Player of the Game
Eight Indians hitters either scored or knocked in a run in tonight's return of the offense, but none did more than Drew Stubbs. Stubbs hit the only home run of the night, a two run shot in the ninth in addition to an early walk and single later to score two more runs. Jason Kipnis had the next best night, just a home run away from the cycle with two RBI and two runs of his own.
MLB announced the tie breaking procedures for the Wild Card today and the Indians got the best draw. In the unlikely event of a three way tie, the Indians will get two chances to advance, first playing Tampa at home, then, if they lose, playing the Rangers in Texas. The two winners would then play each other in the Wild Card play-off game. Of course, if the Indians win the rest of their games, none of that will matter.
After last night's close ending, the Indians knew they needed to put this one away early and they did. Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera each had extra base hits in the first inning, snagging the Indians a 4-0 lead before the Twins came up. Interestingly enough, Michael Brantley, who was batting almost .400 in September prior to tonight, made the first out in the inning.
Brantley corrected this fault with a single in his second at bat, giving him an 11 game hitting streak. During that span he has went 21 for 45 and knocked in ten runs for the Tribe.
Asdrubal Cabrera batted from both sides of the plate in this game, but kept the same approach each way. He hit opposite field doubles in the first and the fifth, knocking in a run and scoring twice after the hits. He then pulled the ball through the hole at second in his fourth at bat, doing exactly what he should have done with each pitch.
Scoreboard Watch: The impossible has happened as the Tampa Bay Rays finally lost a game after winning seven in a row. The Blue Jays took care of the Indians business 6-3, allowing the Indians to move into a first place tie with Tampa (remember that the Indians need to win outright to get home field). The Rangers won their match with the Angels to stay within a game of the Tribe (although their magic number drops to two).
With the nuclear meltdown of Chris Perez last night, Terry Francona announced today that the closer situation will be bullpen by committee for the final three games. This could mean that Perez has thrown his last pitch as an Indian. Tonight, Justin Masterson and Matt Albers were used for the final two innings, although it wasn't a save situation. Masterson has now thrown three shut out innings out of the bullpen, striking out five and giving up just two hits.
Corey Kluber ran out of gas in the fifth inning again, an issue that has been facing three of the Indians starters of late. Scott Kazmir, Danny Salazar along with Kluber are all dealing with fatigue as all three pitchers have vastly surpassed their innings totals from 2012. Kluber is likely to be the only one of those pitchers to be used in the play-offs (assuming the Indians make it to and win the Wild Card game), but the other two could be standing by in the bullpen if this happens in the post season. Tonight, Kluber allowed seven base runners, including a home run, for five runs between the fifth and sixth innings. He had just given up a single run on four hits through the first four.
Rich Hill certainly didn't help Kluber at all either. He came in for Kluber with the bases loaded with one out in the sixth and allowed the first run to score on a ground out to first. Alex Presley then hit a strong single to center to score the other two inherited runners. Hill didn't give up any official runs, but cost the Indians and Corey Kluber three.
Milestone Alert: Yan Gomes ninth inning strike out was the 1,269th by an Indians hitter in 2013. This ties the all time team record from 2011 and with two games left, they will certainly add on. The Indians struck out nine times on the night (mostly thanks to Liam Hendriks) to take the record a day earlier than expected.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 12 – Minnesota Twins 6