Crowe hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning, helping the Indians beat Minnesota 2-1 Thursday to drop the third-place Twins 4 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit.
“We wanted to win two of three here,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said after losing twice. “We can’t fault anybody but ourselves.”
Crowe’s line drive into the left-center gap off Nick Blackburn(notes) (8-6) scored Travis Hafner(notes) from second as Cleveland won for the ninth time in 13 games. The switch-hitting Crowe has batted .375 (9-for-24) with six runs and four RBIs in six games since his recall from Triple-A Columbus on Friday.
“It helps a lot mentally to get a big hit,” said Crowe, a first-round pick in 2005. “I know I can play at this level.”
Orlando Cabrera(notes) had two hits, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games for Minnesota, which has lost five of six after a four-game winning streak. Cabrera is 10 for 20 since being acquired from Oakland on Friday.
The Twins went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and fell two games under .500.
“We had opportunities,” Gardenhire said. “Simple ground balls to the infield get runs in. It’s disappointing to waste a good pitching performance.”
Gardenhire hopes to gain ground during a three-game weekend series at Detroit.
“They’re all important when you’re chasing,” he said. “It’s in our division and on the road. You don’t want to get too far behind or too far under .500.”
Cleveland failed to pad its lead in the seventh against Matt Guerrier(notes), who replaced Blackburn with runners on second and third. Wyatt Toregas(notes) flied to center, and Denard Span(notes) threw out Luis Valbuena(notes) at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) and Shin-Soo Choo(notes) had two hits each for Cleveland, which dealt away four veterans just before the trading deadline and bounced back from a 10-1 loss to the Twins on Tuesday.
“It’s tough to see guys you’ve played with for years go away,” Hafner said. “When you have young guys with character, it usually takes them about 5 minutes to get in step.”
Blackburn entered 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in five starts and two relief appearances against Cleveland. He gave up two runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings. In three starts since beating the Chicago White Sox on July 10, he had been 0-1 with a 9.98 ERA, allowing 31 hits in 15 1-3 innings.
Indians starter Fausto Carmona(notes) allowed one run and six hits over six innings in his second start since being recalled from the minors July 31. After giving up seven runs over two innings in an 11-3 loss to Minnesota that dropped his record to 2-6, the former 19-game winner was sent to the Indians player development complex in Arizona on June 5.
Minnesota put two runners on in the first, second and fifth innings, but Carmona got out of jams. Diving stops by third baseman Jhonny Peralta(notes) in the first and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in the fifth on sharply hit grounders turned potential run-scoring hits into outs.
“Fausto was erratic early, but really found it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s made mental adjustments and that has led to more consistent fundamentals.”
Asdrubal Cabrera opened the Indians’ fourth with a double and scored on Peralta’s sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Bench coach Jeff Datz will manage the Indians on Friday night in Chicago while Wedge attends his mother-in-law’s funeral. … Twins LHP Francisco Liriano(notes), tied for the AL lead with 11 losses, returned to Minneapolis to deal with a family matter. Gardenhire said Liriano may miss his next scheduled start, but the Twins are off Monday and could get by with four starters on their next turn through the rotation. … Twins 3B Joe Crede(notes) strained his shoulder on a swing, but is not expected to miss time. … Indians LHP Mike Gosling(notes) and Winston Abreu(notes), both designated for assignment on Saturday, cleared waivers. Gosling accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus; Abreu signed with Tampa Bay. … Kids 14-and-under were given backpacks resembling chest protectors with former Indians All-Star C Victor Martinez’s(notes) autograph imprinted. Martinez was dealt to Boston on Friday. … Guerrier has an 0.57 ERA in his last 33 appearances since May 24.