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09/18/08 1:59 AM ET
Spoiler sports: Indians sweep Twins
Peralta homers, hits go-ahead RBI double; no-decision for Lee
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Before Wednesday night's game, manager Eric Wedge said he doesn't view his Indians as a "spoiler." "That's a word that has teeth for people who aren't in it," Wedge said. "We're out here playing to win the ballgame. We're trying to win for ourselves, not to spoil it for somebody else." Try telling that to the Twins. With their 6-4 victory Wednesday at Progressive Field, the Indians completed a three-game sweep and further spoiled the Twins' American League Central title hopes. Minnesota remains 2 1/2 games back of Chicago, thanks to a particularly pesky Cleveland team that didn't let blown leads or excessively long ballgames get in its way. In this three-hour, 51-minute affair, Cliff Lee's bid to become the Majors' first 23-game winner since 2002 was thwarted by the 4-2 lead he surrendered in the top of the seventh. But the Indians answered right back in the bottom of the inning with the pair of runs that put them on top. It was another fitful performance from a Tribe team that squandered a seven-run lead Tuesday, only to rally to an extra-innings victory. In fact, it was difficult to discern which team really had its October hopes on the line in this three-game set. "We're not going to quit and let a team win, just because they're trying to make the playoffs," Lee said. "To sweep these guys says a lot about our team." You could say this was a night in which Lee wasn't at his best. He was fighting an uphill battle all night. Not one of the seven innings he started went 1-2-3. But Lee did have the backing of his offense, particularly the middle of the order. Down, 2-0, in the fourth, the Indians tied the game on solo shots from Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner off Twins starter Scott Baker. Hafner's 430-foot blast was his first homer since May 16 of this season. The Indians can only hope it was a sign of things to come for the man known as Pronk, who missed more than three months with a weak right shoulder. "I wouldn't be activated if I didn't feel I was healthy," said Hafner, who snapped an 0-for-13 funk. "It was nice to get one out of the way and feel like a threat again." The Indians threatened again in the fifth, when Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore both singled. That set up Shin-Soo Choo's two-run, two-out double to left that made it 4-2. That was the lead Lee would later be kicking himself for giving up. After talking Wedge into leaving him in the game with runners in scoring position and none out, Lee gave up one run on a Justin Morneau groundout and another on a Delmon Young single. No matter. The Indians weren't done. In the bottom of the seventh, a bizarre sequence put Jamey Carroll on third with one out. Carroll had reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. But when catcher Joe Mauer's attempt to throw him out at second went into the outfield, Carroll mistakenly remained at second. He was tricked by second baseman Alexi Casilla and shortstop Nick Punto laying phantom tags on him. It wasn't until Carroll finally saw the ball rolling past right fielder Denard Span that he realized he should have scored on the play. He cut his losses and dashed to third instead. "When Casilla tagged me, that made me look around," Carroll said. "Then I saw the ball on the warning track." Carroll was saved when Peralta stepped up one out later and ripped a double to left. "Thank God for Jhonny," Carroll said. Victor Martinez then scored Peralta on a double of his own to the right-field corner. It was a 6-4 lead for the Indians, and they would not relinquish it. Rafael Perez pitched a scoreless seventh, despite giving up two singles, and Jensen Lewis, working for the fourth straight day, closed it out in the ninth for his 10th save. This wasn't the type of series one might expect from an Indians team that dropped three of four against the last-place Royals at home over the weekend. But they rose to the challenge of the spoiler role, whether Wedge wants to put it that way or not. "It was a hard-fought series," Wedge said. "[The Twins] are playing for something, and we are, too. To play the way we played this time of year tells you all you need to know about the character of this team."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.