CLEVELAND: The Indians received a big day at the plate from Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley and easily took down the Minnesota Twins 9-4 Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI. He nearly hit for the cycle, advancing to third on his second double as the Twins tried to throw David Murphy out at home plate.
Because of the throw to home, it was ruled a double instead of the needed triple.
Still, it was Cabrera’s best offensive day of the season. And he nearly didn’t play.
“I’ll show you how smart I was — I was going to give him the day off,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after the game. “He talked me out of it.”
Cabrera declined to speak with reporters after the game, waving off a group and saying, “Don’t wait for me.”
Brantley went 3-for-5 with a home run, his team-leading sixth of the season, a double and three RBI.
“Hitting is contagious,” Brantley said. “One hit goes, another hit goes and we kind of just lean on one another. It was fun to be a part of today. It’s a great win, it’s a happy flight to Tampa [where the Indians travel for their next road series] and we’ve got more work to do.”
The Indians (16-19) finished the seven-game homestand against the Chicago White Sox and Twins (15-18) with five wins, including three in a row for the first time this season.
The bats got to work Thursday — the Tribe hit six doubles and had eight extra-base hits, the most of the season — but it was the performances of the starting rotation that carried the most weight during the homestand. Indians starters went 4-0 with a 1.94 ERA and had 51 strikeouts compared to only 13 walks in the seven games.
“Our pitching gave us a chance every single game,” Francona said. “That’s a good way to play. When you pitch that consistently, you always have a chance to win.”
The 5-2 homestand comes after an 0-6 road series that put the Indians in the cellar of the American League Central. Needless to say, the Indians’ rebound at home was welcomed.
“We needed this homestand, that’s exactly what we needed,” said Justin Masterson (2-1, 3.86 ERA), Thursday’s winner, who pitched 6⅓ innings, allowed four runs, two earned, and struck out seven. “It’s never fun to get swept in two series on the road. To be able to come home and win this series is tremendous.”
Murphy and Mike Aviles each had three hits and two doubles to add to what Cabrera and Brantley were able to do.
“What road trip? I already forgot about it,” Aviles said. “In all honesty, sometimes when the road goes a little tough, it’s always good to get home and get the home cooking and be back with the families, the home fans, and put those white uniforms back on.”
Masterson was nearly unhittable through the first five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth and seven innings, when he struggled with his control. What started with an error on Masterson and a walk, led to the Twins’ first two runs of the game, at the time making it 4-2.
In the seventh, Masterson again ran into trouble with a walk and a couple of hits, but reliever Scott Atchison was able to close the door and retain a 5-4 lead after getting Trevor Plouffe to fly out to right field with the tying run in scoring position.
Atchison pitched a perfect eighth inning and Carlos Carrasco pitched the ninth.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.