The left-hander rebounded from one of his worst performances to pitch a career-high eight innings and the rejuvenated Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-1 Wednesday night for their eighth victory in 12 games.
“I was bearing down to get through eight,” Laffey said. “I went out and attacked. I didn’t take anything for granted.”
The 24-year-old Laffey (5-3) knows that with 11 young pitchers recently added to the organization in a series of trades, there’s increased competition for a job.
“I’m going to stay aggressive and try to throw quality strikes,” he said.
Laffey was staked to an early lead as the first three batters in Cleveland’s lineup—Grady Sizemore(notes), Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) and Shin-Soo Choo(notes)—along with No. 9 hitter Trevor Crowe(notes) combined to go 10 for 16 with five runs and seven RBIs.
“That’s baseball for you,” manager Eric Wedge said after the Indians bounced back from a 10-1 loss to the Twins on Tuesday. “Laffey did a great job, we got some big 2-out hits and it was a different game.”
Francisco Liriano(notes) (4-11) remained winless in five starts since June 28 as Minnesota lost for the fourth time in five games following a four-game winning streak. He tied Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie(notes) for the most losses in the AL.
“Frankie was battling,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’d get ahead in the count and end up 3-2. He didn’t pitch to contact and got himself into trouble.”
Liriano agreed. “I was leaving balls over the plate,” the left-hander said. “I’ve been making the same mistakes every start.”
Laffey gave up one unearned run on six hits, striking out five and walking one as he continued to alternate good and bad starts.
On July 29, he was tagged for seven runs in four innings in a 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. That came five days after yielding three hits and fanning seven over seven scoreless innings in a 9-0 win at Seattle.
“I didn’t really change anything, but it helped to have a good changeup against lefties tonight,” Laffey said. “I threw a little of everything, fastballs, cutters, curves, sliders, changes.”
Jess Todd(notes) made his Indians debut in the ninth, yielding one hit. The right-hander was acquired from St. Louis as the player to be named in the trade that sent infielder Mark DeRosa(notes) to the Cardinals on June 27. He was called up from Triple-A Columbus.
Crowe had a bases-loaded single and Cabrera a sacrifice fly in the second inning to put Cleveland ahead 2-0.
Crowe singled with two outs in the fourth and made it to second when center fielder Carlos Gomez(notes) bobbled the ball for an error. Crowe moved up on a passed ball by Mauer and scored on an infield single by Sizemore. Choo singled in Sizemore to make it 4-0.
It could have been worse for Liriano if not for a leaping catch by Denard Span(notes) against the right-field wall to take away Kelly Shoppach’s(notes) bid for extra bases or possible home run leading off the fourth.
Minnesota’s Orlando Cabrera(notes) had three hits, extending his hitting streak to 15 games to tie his career best. He doubled in the sixth, moved up on an error by first baseman Chris Gimenez(notes), and eventually scored on a groundout by Morneau, his AL-leading 89th RBI that made it 4-1.
Cleveland extended its lead in the sixth off reliever R.A. Dickey(notes) on RBI doubles by Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera. Choo greeted Bobby Keppel(notes) with another RBI double and Jamey Carroll’s(notes) sacrifice fly made it 8-1.
Liriano gave up four runs on eight hits and four runs over five innings. He had missed his previous start with a sore and swollen left forearm and is 0-3 with a 5.65 ERA in his last five starts.
“His health is good,” Gardenhire said, adding that Liriano will make his next start.
“The options are very limited,” Gardenhire said. “We can’t go with a four-man rotation. We just don’t have the starting pitching. It’s not like we can take him out and put other guys in.”
Cabrera has hit .471 (8 for 17) since being acquired from Oakland on Friday. … Michael Cuddyer(notes) went 1-for-3 in his return to the Twins lineup as the DH after missing three games with a strained lower back. … Gomez went 0 for 3 and is hitless in 11 career at-bats against Laffey. … Indians LHP Scott Lewis(notes), sidelined with a strained forearm since pitching the home opener April 10, made a rehab start in the Arizona Rookie League. … Indians RHP Adam Miller(notes), sidelined since May 2008, had a third operation and second this year, on the middle finger of his right hand. He hopes to be ready for spring training. … Minnesota has been outscored 43-16 in its last four losses.