© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
06/12/08 11:35 PM ET
Indians take out frustrations on Twins
Tribe raps season-high 18 hits to claim first series since May
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The middle of their order, two-fifths of their starting rotation and their starting second baseman have all been altered by injury. All that's left for the remaining members of the Indians is to play. "You look around," third baseman Casey Blake said, "and it's like, 'Well, it's just us.'" "Just us" -- for one night, at least -- was more than just enough Thursday. Barraged by more bad injury news earlier in the day, the Indians took out their frustrations and had quite a bit of fun laying a 12-2 whooping on the unsuspecting Twins in front of 21,716 at Progressive Field. This win was significant in that it afforded the Indians their first series victory since a May 13-15 sweep of the A's. For a Tribe team fresh off the knowledge that catcher Victor Martinez will be gone for six to eight weeks with right elbow inflammation and newly promoted second baseman Josh Barfield is out indefinitely with a left finger sprain, the series win was welcome consolation. "It says a lot about our guys," manager Eric Wedge said. "They're tough, they're feisty and they try to find ways to win the ballgame." One could scarcely think of a better way to win a ballgame than to get an effective start from Aaron Laffey and back it up with a season-high 18 hits off Livan Hernandez and the Twins' bullpen. Second base fill-in Jamey Carroll and outfielder Ben Francisco paced that effort with four hits apiece, with Francisco driving in three runs. Shin-Soo Choo's three-run homer off Hernandez in the third inning was also a separator on a night in which the Indians busted loose at the plate. "We've been swinging the bats better since Texas," Francisco said, referring to the Tribe's offensive outbursts at Rangers Ballpark last week. "Everybody's starting to do a better job. We played tough the whole nine innings tonight, which is something we need to do." Really, their work after the third inning was nothing more than unnecessary insurance. With a 1-0 lead already in hand entering the inning, the Indians really made life miserable on Hernandez in the third. After the Tribe loaded the bases on singles, Jhonny Peralta drove in a pair with a line-drive single to left. Choo then broke it open with his three-run blast to right to make it 6-0. Grady Sizemore's solo shot in the fourth provided more damage off Hernandez, who gave up seven runs on 12 hits in just three-plus innings of work. "It was just real good to see," Wedge said of the offense. "We saw good at-bats up and down the lineup."
Laffey, of course, was happy to see it, too, though he didn't need quite that much support.
This wasn't the most efficient of outings for Laffey, who needed 101 pitches to get through six innings. But it was nonetheless effective, as he allowed just a run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
"[Pitching coach] Carl Willis told me when I came off that that's the most three-ball counts he's ever seen me get into," Laffey said. "I threw better when I was behind than I did when I was ahead. I trusted in my sinker over the plate when I got behind 2-0 and 3-1, and it worked out for me."
All that run support helped, too.
"Everything was clicking tonight," Laffey said.
It continued to click for the Tribe after Hernandez came out. The Indians brought home three more runs against reliever Brian Bass in a fifth inning capped by Francisco's two-run single.
Though the game was woefully out of reach for the Twins by that point, the game still managed to hold its share of interest late. Things got a bit testy after Carroll was hit by a pitch in the fifth, Alexi Casilla was plunked by Ed Mujica in the top of the eighth, and Andy Marte was nailed by a pitch in the bottom of the eighth.
That last bruising prompted home-plate umpire Ed Hickox to issue a warning to both benches. Wedge and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, meanwhile, jawed at each other from the top step of their respective dugouts.
What was said?
"I'm not going to comment on that," Wedge said.
Said Gardenhire: "I told him, 'See you in Minnesota.'"
That's doubtful. But what was not in doubt was the Indians' lead, which only grew in the seventh, when Carroll singled home a run and Francisco doubled in another.
"We've been doing a good job swinging the bats and playing good baseball lately," Carroll said. "It was good to finish off a series like that."
|"It says a lot about our guys. They're tough, they're feisty and they try to find ways to win the ballgame."|
|-- manager Eric Wedge|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.