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Indians 4, Twins 3: Tribe wins on walk-off hit by Mike Aviles

Indians win on a clutch hit and good defense. ...Wait a second, what'd you say?

Jason Miller

Game 34: Indians 4, Twins 3

The Indians picked up their first walk-off win of the season Wednesday night, when Mike Aviles drove in Asdrubal Cabrera with a single up the middle. That was Aviles' third hit of the night, as he raised his average from .271 to .302. Cabrera was only on base to begin with because Minnesota left fielder Eduardo Escobar dropped a fly ball. It wasn't quite an easy play, but it should have been caught, and ruling it a double was a gift to Cabrera from the official scorer. That a defensive miscue would help lead to the game-winning run for the Indians was a nice change of pace, given the sorry state of the Tribe defense so far this season.

Tonight (aside from another throwing error by Yan Gomes, which I think is a legitimate area of concern at this point) the Indians played great defense. Carlos Santana (whose slump has resumed after his hot four-game stretch last week) made a number of excellent plays at third base, and Michael Brantley cut a man down at second base in the 2nd, but the best play of the night was made by center fielder Nyjer Morgan in the top of the 3rd. See for yourself:

If he doesn't grab that, it's a leadoff double, ans given the way the rest of that inning played out, Pinto would have scored for the Twins.

Danny Salazar couldn't quite keep the starting rotation's streak of excellent starts going, in part because he was perhaps left in a batter or two too long. He got through the first two innings on just 19 pitches, then ran into trouble in the 3rd, but gave up just one run (thanks in large part to that catch by Morgan). Starting with the final out of the 4th, he retired eight straight hitters, before allowing hits to the final two batters he faced (both of whom would come in to score after Bryan Shaw took over). Salazar's line for the night: 6.1 innings, 3 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk, with 7 strikeouts (and no home runs allowed). The three runs don't look great, but the overall work is really good. If you strike out 7, walk 1, and keep the ball in the park, you'll do well.

Aside from Aviles, Michael Brantley was the other top performer at the plate, picking up two more hits and driving in two more runs (following a two-week slump that didn't get much mention). Four runs isn't really a bad output, but it's not a good one either, and the Indians have now topped it only once in their last eleven games. Santana's average is all the way down to .139, and Swisher is a couple outs away from joining him below the Mendoza line (he's currently at .202). David Murphy's hot start is a thing of the past, he's down to a .705 OPS.

The lineup remains an issue, but we can worry about that tomorrow.

Tonight, the Indians are walk-off winners, and if they can win tomorrow, they'll climb out of he AL Central cellar. The series finale between these two teams is set to begin at 12:05 ET, with Justin Masterson and Kevin Correia scheduled to face off.

Box Score

Win-expectancy chart:

Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call:

Game Thread

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