Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Say what you want about two teams fighting for last place -Thursday at Progressive Field the Indians and Twins played like it meant something.
The two bottom dwellers in the AL Central went extra frames for the second time in the last three days, this time with the Indians finally beating Minnesota, 4-3 in 10 innings.
“Felt like we could have done better on the homestand, but we won today and the rest is history,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.
The winning rally started with a Shin-Soo Choo double to left-center, followed by a Jason Kipnis ground out to move him to third.
Carlos Santana was walked intentionally, as was Michael Brantley, and Casey Kotchman won it with a single up the middle to score Choo.
The win ties back up the battle for fourth in the AL Central, as both the Indians and Twins now sit at 62-88. The Twins win the season series, winning 6 of 18 games.
Corey Kluber finally gave the Indians some innings from the starting rotation. He went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
“Any win is good, obviously a walk-off is a more exciting finish,” Kluber said. “It’s nice to win a few games.”
Kluber retired the first eight hitters before Pedro Florimon singled with two outs in the third. Minnesota scored in the fourth thanks to Kluber’s wild pitch. Ben Revere led off with a single, stole second and took third when Mauer grounded out. Kluber’s pitch to Josh Willingham bounced in front of the plate and past catcher Lou Marson, scoring Revere.
The Indians got to Twins starter Esmerling Vasquez in the fourth. Kipnis and Santana walked to start the inning. After Brantley flied out, Kotchman’s single through the right side scored Kipnis and tied the game. Lillibridge then lined a single to left, scoring Santana and giving Cleveland the lead.
Jack Hannahan’s single loaded the bases, but Revere caught Thomas Neal’s fly ball in right field and threw Kotchman out at the plate to end the inning.
Minnesota put together a two-out rally in the fifth. After Florimon walked, Span hit a bloop liner past third base. The ball rolled into foul territory and caromed oddly off the tarp along the stands. The ball died in shallow left field and Florimon scored before Neal could throw home.
Plouffe, swinging at a 3-0 pitch, hammered a drive to center that caused confusion on both sides. Brantley went back toward the warning track, but never saw the ball, which cleared the wall a few feet to his left. Plouffe, not realizing the ball had left the park, stopped between first and second. He finally began his trot around the bases after an umpire gave the home run signal.
Friday the Indians start a series with the Royals in Kansas City. Justin Masterson (11-14) goes for the Tribe vs Luis Mendoza (7-9) for the Royals at 8:10pm.
(AP Contributed to this story)