Indians Snap Four-Game Skid
Cleveland plates 2 runs in eighth
CLEVELAND — Not pretty or polished, but perfect for the Indians.
With their confidence sagging, they had to end a season-high losing streak if it meant battling, scratching or clawing their way to a win.
They did all of that.
Roberto Perez’s crawling infield single scored Francisco Lindor with the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth inning as the Cleveland snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
“It was big,” said starter Shane Bieber, who matched Cy Young winner Blake Snell for five innings. “It was just a really good game, a really tough game and just to be able to come out on top I think is gonna prove big for us going down the stretch.”
With the bases loaded, Perez, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion, hit a slow roller off Jose Alvarado (0-4) that third baseman Daniel Robertson charged but couldn’t field with his bare hand.
Alvarado then walked Jake Bauers to force in Carlos Santana, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead. Alvarado, who replaced Snell in the seventh, walked three in the eighth.
“I thought I was throwing the ball good,” Alvarado said. “Sometimes in this game, it’s not going to go your way. I thought I threw a good pitch on ball three to Bauers, but I didn’t get it.
“Sometimes, things go your way. Sometimes, they don’t.”
A.J. Cole (2-1) struck out the side in the eighth and Brad Hand worked the ninth for his 13th save in 13 tries.
Jordan Luplow homered in the fourth off Snell for the Indians, who have been in an offensive funk for months and have been searching for something — or someone — to get them going.
Maybe it’s Luplow, who’s batting .333 (13 of 39) with six homers and 10 RBIs against lefties.
In the fourth, Luplow drove a high fastball out of the strike zone from Snell over the wall in right-center.
“I had no business swinging at that pitch, I’m going to be honest,” Luplow said. “I was just trying to be aggressive. Because when you get to two strikes with a guy like that, it’s going to be a real tough at-bat. Luckily I got a hold of one.”
Other than allowing Luplow’s homer, Snell had little trouble with the punchless Indians, who came in batting .222.
The left-hander gave up just four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He had issues with his command while walking three, striking out seven and throwing a season-high 104 pitches before manager Kevin Cash gave the ball to Alvarado.
“I was frustrated with a few walks and some outcomes, but for the most part, I thought I did OK,” Snell said. “I was upset with how I started and how I finished.”
Bieber, who fanned 15 in a complete-game shutout against Baltimore on Sunday, worked his way out of one-out, two-on jams in three innings. But he threw too many pitches — 111.
“They made Bieber work so hard and fortunately for us he was up to it,” Francona said. “Every inning, every at-bat, he even said to me, ‘Man, their at-bats. They didn’t chase.’ But he also hung in there. I thought he really battled.”
Francona has considered moving Lindor out of the leadoff spot to shake up his club’s lethargic lineup. He’s also spoken to the All-Star about it.
For now, nothing will change.
“He said, ‘I’ll hit wherever you want me to,'” Francona said. “I think there has to be a reason that makes you better and I don’t know if I could say that would make us better. He’s a great player. But then who’s leading off?
“We’re probably taking maybe the best leadoff hitter in baseball, man that’s a pretty good thing to have. We have to find a way to lengthen our lineup. I think it’s going to be more with our guys’ approach and the guys we have just picking it up a little bit.”
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Santana has drawn a walk in a career-high 10 games, the majors’ longest streak. It’s the longest run by a Cleveland player since Victor Martinez walked in 10 straight in 2006.
Rays: 3B Robertson (allergic reaction) didn’t start after leaving Thursday’s game early. He has a nut allergy and ate sweet potatoes containing pecan. “By the second inning, his color and skin tone changed,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve seen it before, but not like this.”
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger threw a 35-pitch bullpen session and will now head to the team’s year-round training complex in Arizona to continue to rehab from an upper back strain. Clevinger’s quick recovery has been a huge plus for the Indians, who feared he might be out several more months.
Rays: RHP Charlie Morton (4-0, 2.65 ERA) has a 17-start unbeaten streak, going 7-0 with a 3.21 ERA since last August 17.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-4, 4.30 ERA) lost both starts against Tampa Bay last season. He leads the AL in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.33).
Astros 4, Red Sox 3
HOUSTON (AP) — Jake Marisnick homered early off Chris Sale, then made two dazzling defensive plays in center field to help the Houston Astros beat the mistake-prone Boston Red Sox.
In a matchup of the last two World Series winners, the Red Sox committed three errors, not looking nearly as sharp as they did in their last visit to Minute Maid Park when they captured the pennant with a 4-1 win in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series in October. The Astros took two of three last weekend at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox did end Ryan Pressly’s MLB-record streak of 40 straight scoreless appearances when Jackie Bradley Jr. launched the first pitch from the Houston reliever for a home run in the eighth inning.
Wade Miley (5-2) yielded four hits and two runs in six innings, striking out a season-high eight to win his fourth straight decision.
All of Boston’s errors came in the first four innings to help the Astros build a 4-0 lead. Xander Bogaerts hit a solo homer in the sixth and Bradley made it 4-2.
Christian V’zquez homered off Roberto Osuna with two outs in the ninth, but the Houston closer struck out Bradley for his 13th save.
Sale (1-6) gave up three hits and four runs, but only two of them were earned, in six innings. He struck out five after fanning 10 or more in each of his last four starts — he struck out 10 against the Astros in his previous outing, getting a no-decision in a game Boston eventually won.
Twins 11, White Sox 4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Eddie Rosario went 4 for 5 with three RBIs and one of Minnesota’s three home runs in another power-packed romp by the major league-leading Twins, who beat the Chicago White Sox for their ninth win in their last 10 games.
Max Kepler was 3 for 4 with four RBIs and a homer and Miguel San¯ also went deep for the Twins (34-16), who reached double-digit runs for the fourth time in their last eight games and became only the second team in baseball history to hit the 100-homer mark in just 50 games. They have the most runs (300) in the majors.
Jose Berrios (7-2) was the latest beneficiary of the big swings, after falling behind 4-1. Rosario tied the game in the third with his 15th homer. Two batters later, San¯ swatted a 2-2 changeup from Reynaldo Lopez (3-5) into the seats for his fifth long ball in seven games this season since coming off the injured list.
Tim Anderson went 3 for 3 and Yonder Alonso drove in two runs for the White Sox.
The Twins arrived home from a seven-game West Coast road swing extended by one day due to a rare California rainout in good spirits and in even better shape in the standings, winning three out of four in Seattle against the Mariners before sweeping the Los Angeles Angels. After outscoring their opponents 67-27 during the trip, the Twins built an eight-game lead in the American League Central over three-time defending division champion Cleveland. The Indians won Friday to keep pace.