The Indians defeated the Twins 9-4 on Thursday afternoon, wrapping up the series victory and achieving their longest winning streak of the season so far: a whopping 3 games. Justin Masterson pitched well, lasting 6.1 innings with 7 strikeouts. It was enough for his second win of the season.
It was the offense however who were the heroes of this game, as they absolutely pounded the Twins' pitching staff for 15 hits. The entire lineup contributed but Michael Brantley, Mike Aviles and David Murphy stood out in particular. The three men all had 3 hit games, including Brantley's 6th home run of the season. He still leads the team in homers and RBI (29), and his partner in crime Murphy keeps getting important hits as well. Aviles remained hot from last night's game, and surely Terry Francona is thinking how he can keep him in the lineup every day at this point.
A special mention must go to Asdrubal Cabrera though, who was an offensive force this afternoon. Cabrera finished with 4 hits on the day, 3 of which were for extra bases. His 2nd inning solo home run really got the ball rolling for the Indians as he set the tone offensively for the rest of the team. His final hit was a stinging double in the 8th which scored the Tribe's final run, bringing home Murphy. Cabrera slid into third base on the throw and the smile on his face as he stood up told the entire story. Here is a man enjoying his baseball at the moment and when Cabby is happy, I'm happy. He gets a lot of grief from Indians fans but on days like today, you can't help but love him.
As for the Tribe's pitching, starter Justin Masterson came out of the gate firing bullets as he breezed through the first 5 innings. He was unstoppable and looked on course for an easy Maddux, as he made short work of the Twins. He had all his pitches working. However it wasn't to last as he ran into trouble in the 6th inning, as the Twins were gifted 2 runs thanks to a combination of Masterson losing control, an error from the big man, and a wild pitch. Finally Cabrera couldn't field a bare-handed groundball by Chris Colabello, allowing the runners to score.
Masterson got himself in a pickle again in the 7th, when a Daniel Santana double scored another runner, as the Twins looked set to eliminate the Indians' lead. It never happened thankfully as Scott Atchison came in to relieve Masterson, who finished with a decent line of 6.1 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 4 walks and 7 strikeouts. It wasn't a great performance by Masterson by any means, and his final numbers overshadow just how incredible he was through those first 5 innings, but he was good enough overall, despite those customary control issues rearing their ugly heads again. His performance maintains the Indians' current streak of quality starts by the rotation, a promising sign after the early-season struggles we witnessed in April.
The Indians are now riding a three-game win streak as they travel to Tampa tomorrow for a three game series against the Rays. Corey Kluber is scheduled to be the Tribe's starter and he'll face off against Jake Odorizzi. First pitch is set for 7:10 ET.
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