Indians 4, Twins 2
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The first month of the season was a forgettable one for Jake Westbrook, and Cleveland’s lineup could say the same thing.
But Westbrook won for the first time this year, his teammates began to hit and the Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Though Westbrook (1-5) had thrown eight innings in three of his first five starts, he brought a 6.35 ERA into this one. Allowing eight hits, one walk and two runs in six innings, he lowered his ERA to 5.77.
“It was getting in my head a little bit,” Westbrook said. “It’s been hit or miss with me. I’ve either pitched great or been really bad.”
Travis Hafner and Casey Blake homered for the Indians, who carried a major league-worst .225 team batting average into the game. This was only the fourth time all season they had 10 hits or more in a nine-inning game.
“Anything we can get right now is good,” Blake said. “We’re scratching for runs.”
Still, they left 13 men on base—including eight between the second and the fifth.
“We need to do a better job with runners in scoring position,” said Hafner, who homered for the third straight game. “We could’ve put the game away.”
Justin Morneau homered for the Twins, who stranded nine runners.
“It was good for me to be able to get after guys,” Westbrook said.
Minnesota, playing for the first time since reliever Juan Rincon was suspended 10 days for violating baseball’s new performance-enhancing drug policy, fell behind 4-0 early.
Joe Mays (1-1), who has never beaten Cleveland in 13 career starts and now has a 5.58 ERA against the Indiana in 17 appearances, usually succeeds when his sinking fastball dances around the strike zone and induces groundball outs.
That didn’t happen in the first two innings, when the Indians scored twice in each frame and five of the six outs were recorded in the air. Hafner’s homer, just his third after hitting 28 last year, drove in Coco Crisp in the first. Then Blake’s solo shot and an RBI double by Ronnie Belliard came in the second.
Some interruptions in the schedule have kept Mays from pitching on regular rest in his comeback from major elbow surgery, is having trouble getting loose and finding his location in the early innings.
“We’re going to have to find a way to get that fixed,” he said.
Escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth, Mays gave up nine hits, two walks and struck out three over five innings.
“He just kept battling,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I don’t know how he did that one, either. It wasn’t beautiful.”
After Morneau led off the inning with an opposite-field homer that nestled into the left-field seats, the Twins ran themselves out of a rally in the second.
Torii Hunter, taking off before Westbrook delivered, was caught stealing second after a single—his first failure in 12 attempts this season. Then Jacque Jones, after hesitating slightly as he rounded first on a single down the left-field line, was thrown out easily by Crisp trying to stretch a double.
“We’re going to run into some outs sometimes,” Gardenhire said, “but we’re going to run into some better things.”
Joe Mauer’s RBI single cut the lead to 4-2 in the third, but Hunter left the bases loaded when he flied out to center to end the inning.
“We just weren’t able to get them when they counted,” said Cuddyer, who went 3-for-4. “We just didn’t come through.”
Boone returned to the lineup after a three-day mental and physical break, going 0-for-5 to lower his average to .115. … Since being activated from the disabled list on April 22, Morneau has three homers and 10 RBIs while batting .417. … Crisp made a diving, full-extension catch of Nick Punto’s line drive to end the fourth.