Covering the Bases: Game 91

Final:

Indians 10, Rays 6

FIRST: So, who were these guys and what happened to the Indians?

Cleveland snapped out of its recent offensive funk in a big way on Wednesday night, pouring out 10 runs on 14 hits in a moral-boosting comeback win over the Rays. The biggest stat of the night was the Tribe’s eight runs with two outs.

“That’s what made me happy,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “It’s been a while since we got into that. Today we were just yelling in the dugout, ‘Come on! Two-out rally. Comeback. Let’s go. Two-out rally.’ It happened. The guys just put together some tremendous at-bats.”

The Indians’ Nos. 1-6 hitters each collected at least two hits, and nine of the 13 hits without tht showing came with two outs against them. Overall, Cleveland’s offense went 10-for-18 with two outs, including six straight two-out hits in a five-run seventh.

The Tribe had five runs in its past three games combined.

SECOND: If the Indians want to make a realistic push for the division, it’s going to take more than adding a bat (though that wouldn’t hurt). It’s going to take having guys like Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner hitting to their potential.

That is especially true of Santana, who was expected to be Cleveland’s main power threat this year. He has struggled mightily, and the Indians can only hope and pray that Wednesday marks a turning point for the catcher.

Santana launched a three-run homer in the seventh — ending an 138 at-bat power drought — and he added an RBI single in the ninth. Beyond that, it was Santana’s first multi-hit game since June 18 and his first game since May 8 with at least two hits and at least two RBIs.

THIRD: Acta said “the at-bat of the game” was a battle between hard-throwing lefty Jake McGee and lefty-hitting Jason Kipnis with two outs and runners on the corners in the seventh. With Tampa Bay holding a 4-3 lead, McGee was brought into the game to face Kipnis.

The splits were in McGee’s favor, considering Kipnis was .226 AVG/.641 OPS vs. LHP and .305/.845 vs. RHP entering the evening. That said, Acta actually liked the pairing.

“It was a good matchup to me, because fastballs,” Acta said. “The guy was throwing a lot of fastballs and he’s a good fastball hitter.”

Kipnis saw six fastballs, including four at 97 mph or faster. The last pitch — a 98-mph heater on a 2-2 count — was drilled into center for an RBI single that tied the game. We’ll choose to remember that outcome, and not the 1-2 ball call that miiight have been a strike.

Rays manager Joe Maddon was tossed over that ruling.

Moving on…

HOME: Acta said he was “shocked” earlier this season when he saw starter Justin Masterson’s career numbers against Tampa Bay. The Rays have annoyed Masterson for years and little changed on Wednesday night.

Tampa Bay scored four runs on seven hits off Masterson, who walked seven in his 4 1/3 innings. It could have been worse, but reliever Esmil Rogers entered and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth inning to save Masterson a few more earned runs.

That was a key turning point in the game.

As for Masterson, he now is 1-6 with a 8.08 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays. Over the past two years, he has gone 0-3 with a 10.71 ERA (23 ER/19.1 IP) and 20 walks. Over his past seven starts vs. Tampa Bay, Masterson has gone 0-6 with an 8.38 ERA.

In 13 career games against the Rays, Masterson has posted a bloated 7.74 ERA (45 ER/52.1 IP). To put it another way, there have been 199 pitchers who have logged more than 29 innings in their career against the Rays. Masterson has the highest ERA of that group.

On deck:

Indians (47-44) at Rays (47-45)
at 12:10 p.m. ET Thursday at Tropicana Field

–JB 

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