Indians 9, Twins 2
CLEVELAND (AP)—Four runs had already crossed home plate when rookie Jody Gerut came up in the second inning with one goal in mind: to keep ‘em coming.
“I was just trying to keep the party going,” he said.
Did he ever.
Gerut cranked up the volume in Jacobs Field by connecting for his first grand slam, highlighting Cleveland’s eight-run second inning Saturday night and powering the Indians to a 9-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Gerut’s shot off Kyle Lohse (6-9) capped the Indians’ biggest inning this season. And for one night, Cleveland’s young lineup looked more like the ones that routinely dominated AL pitchers the past decade.
“I don’t remember the last time we had an inning like that,” said Travis Hafner, who had three hits. “That’s an example right there of the team we need to be.”
Billy Traber (5-5) made the huge, early lead stand up by holding the Twins to one earned run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings. The rookie left-hander is 5-1 in six starts at home this season.
The Indians improved to just 2-8 since the All-Star break, and slowed down the Twins, who had finally crawled back to .500 by winning seven of nine in the second half.
Cleveland’s onslaught was helped by some unusually sloppy fielding by the Twins, who made three errors before they recorded an out in the second.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We didn’t execute. Fundamentally, we were terrible. That’s not normal, and that’s what’s most disappointing. We lost our composure out there, and that led to one ugly inning.”
Minnesota entered ranked No. 2 in the AL in fielding percentage, but miscues by right fielder Dustan Mohr, Lohse and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz allowed the Indians to take a 4-2 lead and load the bases with one out for Gerut.
Gerut, one of the Indians’ most promising youngsters and budding stars, then lifted a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats for his 13th homer to make it 8-2.
“I certainly wasn’t trying to hit it out of the park,” Gerut said. “It wasn’t like he (Lohse) was pitching bad. He had good stuff out there.”
Lohse gave up five straight hits—a double, two bloops and two bunts—and the Twins kicked, fumbled and threw the ball around in the second to set up Gerut’s slam.
Lohse, now winless in his last eight starts, was tagged for seven earned runs in just 1 2-3 innings.
“That’s probably the worst inning of my life,” Lohse said. “It kept getting worse.”
Guzman’s single could have scored two, but Indians center fielder Milton Bradley threw out Mohr at home. Catcher Victor Martinez made a nice play, too, diving across the plate to slap his tag as Mohr slid by.
“That play and Jody’s slam were the biggest plays of the game,” Hafner said.
Traber gave up four singles in the second, but only two over the next 4 1-3 innings, retiring 14 of the final 16 he faced. He walked none and struck out six.
Although he had a huge lead, Traber said he never allowed himself to get too comfortable.
“You have to pitch like it’s a close ballgame,” he said. “I learned that when I was 16. When your team scores a lot of runs, you have to go out therethe next inning and put up a zero.”
The Twins are just 17-19 vs. the AL Central this season after going 50-25 inside the division in 2002. … Gerut entered the night ranked in the top seven among AL rookies in six offensive categories. … Lohse is 0-5 with an 11.02 ERA in his last five starts, and the right-hander remained winless since June 11. … Hafner had a single and double in Cleveland’s eight-run inning, becoming first Indians player to get two hits in an inning since Juan Gonzalez since Sept. 2, 2001. … Indians closer Danys Baez has lost his last seven decisions, the longest losing streak for a Cleveland pitcher since JoseMesa lost eight in a row from Aug. 23, 1996, to June 29, 1997.