Corey Kluber turned in a quality start and the Tribe’s bats got going in the 10th inning Thursday afternoon as Cleveland beat the Twins in extra innings, 4-3, to avoid getting swept in the final game of a three-game series at Progressive Field. The win improves the Indians’ record to 62-88, now tied again with Minnesota for fourth place in the AL Central.
The game started off a pitcher’s duel as Kluber took a perfect game into the third and he and Esmerling Vazquez combined for six half-innings of shutout ball. The Twins finally broke through in the fourth as Ben Revere hit a leadoff single, stole second, moved to third on Joe Mauer‘s groundout, and scored on Kluber’s wild pitch to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
The Indians rallied back in the bottom of the inning as Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana started things off with back-to-back walks and Casey Kotchman and Brent Lillibrdige delivered with consecutive RBI singles to make it a 2-1 game. Denard Span‘s RBI double in the fifth tied the game up and Trevor Plouffe‘s solo home run in the sixth put the Twins up 2-2, but Jack Hannahan‘s RBI single off Kyle Waldrop in the bottom of the sixth knotted the score at 3-3.
The stalemate continued through the end of regulation play as the game went to extra innings. Anthony Swarzak took the mound for Minnesota in the bottom of the 10th and pinch-hitter Shin-Soo Choo greeted him with a leadoff double. Kipnis’ groundout moved him to third, and Swarzak walked Santana and Michael Brantley to load the bases with one out. Casey Kotchman then delivered a base hit to bring Choo home as the Indians wrapped up their homestand with a 4-3 walkoff win.
The Good: It’s always great to see this team come up big in the clutch, and a walkoff win definitely goes in that category. Casey Kotchman was the offensive MVP, going 3-for-5 with a double and the game-winning RBI, while Michael Brantley (2-for-4 with a walk) and Jack Hannahan (2-for-4) also had good days at the plate.
Meanwhile, Corey Kluber looked pretty good on the mound. He pitched a quality start, holding the Twins to three runs on five hits in six innings pitched, striking out five against just one walk. Kluber’s strikeout ability is his best demonstrated skill, so it was nice to see him rack a few up Thursday.
The “Huh?”: Vinny Rottino is hitting .157. His OBP is barely over .250, and he’s OPSing .568. Even if you think giving valuable September at-bats to a 32-year-old journeyman who has never had any semblance of success at the Major League level is a good idea, what possible justification is there for letting him hit leadoff?
Interesting Tidbit: This is Vinny Rottino’s 10th season as a professional baseball player, and Thursday was the first time he’d ever started a game hitting higher than fifth in The Show.