Late Runs Push Tribe to Third Straight, Beat Twins 6-2; Three Takeaways From the Victory
After a homestand which saw the Indians go 2-4, it appeared the luster might have been off for some fans that felt this 2017 season was going to be a cakewalk on the way back to the World Series.
They entered a four-game set at Minnesota with a 5-7 record, and with the Twins sitting at 7-5 and playing well, it looked like it could be a long few days for the Tribe.
How things can change in the course of a few days.
The Tribe played well in the Twin cities, sweeping the Twins with some great pitching as well as key hits when they counted the most.
After Monday's win thanks to some great pitching by Danny Salazar, and then bats going crazy on Tuesday during an 11-4 win, the team waited out a rain out on Wednesday and came back on Thursday with both offense and pitching stepping up during a 6-2 win.
Here's our three takeaways from the win as the Indians are 8-7, over .500 for the first time since they were 3-2, and now they get set for a rematch of their first three games at Progressive Field against the White Sox in Chicago.
1. A 7th Inning Lesson in Patience
The Indians trailed 2-1 entering the seventh inning, but put together a solid inning, and most of it was done with players keeping their bats on their shoulders.
Carlos Santana got the Indians even with a second RBI double to make it a 2-2 game, and then with the Twins on the ropes, the Indians simply sat back and waited.
And waited, and waited.
Francisco Lindor was walked intentionally, and then Michael Brantley drew a bases loaded walk from Tyler Duffey (0-1) to make it a 3-2 game.
Again being patient, after Edwin Encarnación popped out to second for the second out, Jose Ramirez drew another bases loaded walk off Taylor Rogers to put the Tribe up 4-2.
The team had all kinds of issues with runners in scoring position during their homestand, but in Minnesota they did much better in that department and drawing a couple walks on Thursday even helped that.
2. Bauer Showing More Power
Two Indians starters that fans seemed to have a lot of worries about entering Minnesota seemed to right the ship some, that being Josh Tomlin on Tuesday and Thursday Trevor Bauer.
Bauer had allowed 10 runs in 10.2 innings over his first two starts but you could see was much better against the Twins overall.
He did balk in a run in the fourth inning when he stumbled on the mound with the bases loaded, then fell behind 2-0 when Jorge Polanco hit a sacrifice fly, but other than that, was very good.
He lasted 6.1 innings, allowing two runs, three hits and three walks, lowering his ERA from 8.44 to 6.35.
If nothing else from this series, Bauer and Tomlin's outings on the mound are great additions to winning three games on the road against a divisional foe.
1. Coming Out of Their Shell
From an offense that produced 20 runs and 33 hits over three wins over the Twins to a pitching staff that held Minnesota to 7 runs on 24 hits, this Indians team looked a lot more polished and a lot more like the team we all expected to see as 2017 kicked off.
There was a lot of positives as we talked about in point #2 like Bauer an Tomlin, but in addition to that the offense came through with some key hits, and Thursday some smart baseball making the Twins pitch strikes which two relievers were just not able to do.
Sometimes going on the road can just get a team more on tap, and it looked like a trip to Minnesota, a place were it was very cold Thursday (low 40s), it was good to see the Indians overcome and have some fun again in getting the sweep.
It's on to Chicago for a set with the White Sox before a homestand starting on Tuesday. Friday they have their ace in Corey Kluber on the mound as the team looks for their 4th straight win.