Cleveland at Minnesota

Scoreboard
Cleveland (51-66) «0061000007120
Minnesota (56-61)030000001481

Indians 7, Twins 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- By playing more relaxed, the Cleveland Indians are giving their AL Central opponents something to worry about.

Kelly Shoppach and Luis Valbuena hit back-to-back homers and Grady Sizemore added a two-run shot in a six-run third inning as Cleveland beat the Minnesota Twins 7-4 on Sunday.

Shoppach homered on the first pitch of the third from Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn (8-8). Valbuena followed two pitches later, and after Blackburn hit Andy Marte with a pitch, Sizemore connected for his 17th of the season.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta added RBI hits in the inning to help make a winner of Aaron Laffey (7-3).

"Guys are playing loose and having fun," said Sizemore, who finished with a pair of hits, a walk, two RBI and two runs scored. "We had kind of fallen back and now we've got nothing to lose. So now we can go out there and just relax and play, and sometimes you get your best baseball when you're playing that way. We've got a chance to make some things happen here late and see where it goes."

Minnesota's dim playoff hopes faded further with another series loss to the Indians. After an 11-0 win in the opener, the Twins were outscored 14-7 the final two games. The results were reminiscent of a series two weeks ago in Cleveland when Minnesota opened with a 10-1 victory, then dropped the next two games while being outscored 10-2.

The Twins have lost five series in a row, the last four coming against AL Central opponents. Minnesota now trails Detroit by six games in the division and Texas by 10½ in the wild-card race.

"I'm tired of this happening and I know the guys are tired of it," Blackburn said. "Hopefully it gets better."

Despite being a seller at the trade deadline, Cleveland is playing a big part in the AL Central standings.

The Indians have won four straight series against the top three teams in the division. They are 15-9 in their last 24 games.

"It's always fun to be the spoiler," Sizemore said. "We just want to finish strong. We're not worried about anybody else right now. We want to keep doing what we've been doing these last two weeks, trying to win series and grow as a team."

Laffey's growth has been a big part of Cleveland's resurgence.

The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA over his last five starts. He went 5 1/3 innings on Sunday, allowing three runs on five hits.

Minnesota loaded the bases in the fourth. However, Laffey got Delmon Young, who had hit a two-run homer in the second, to ground into an inning-ending double-play.

"To not give up that big hit, that's a big thing, and definitely a positive step forward in the season and my career to know I can go out there in tough situations and bear down and get good hitters out," Laffey said.

Blackburn is heading in the opposite direction.

Arguably the Twins' most consistent starter earlier in the season, Blackburn has faded since the All-Star break. Since beating the Chicago White Sox on July 10, he is 0-4 with a 10.17 ERA in six starts.

Staked to a 3-0 advantage on Sunday, Blackburn failed to get out of the third inning.

The right-hander set down the first six batters he faced, but allowed three home runs and hit a batter in his first seven pitches of the third inning. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on six hits.

"It deflated us a bit," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We go out and score three and then give up six or seven. Same story. Our starters weren't able to get us deep in the game."

Blackburn had surrendered just 14 home runs this season, the sixth fewest in the AL with a minimum of 135 innings pitched.

Notes

  • Twins 2B Alexi Casilla was out of the lineup after bruising his left foot during an at-bat on Saturday. Gardenhire said Casilla came in feeling better on Sunday.
  • Indians RF Trevor Crowe took batting practice before the game. But the switch-hitter, who has a strained right oblique muscle, only swung from the right side. Crowe did enter as a defensive replacement late.
  • Shoppach and Valbuena's homers in the third were the seventh time this season that the Indians have hit home runs back-to-back.
  • After entering August with just three homers, Twins OF Delmon Young's two-run homer in the second gave him three in his past six games.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Minnesota

D. Young
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Cleveland

G. Sizemore
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 

Related Video

Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore, CF4222111 .242
Jamey Carroll, RF4110102 .306
    Trevor Crowe, LF0000000 .208
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS5111022 .309
Shin-Soo Choo, LF-RF5011013 .291
Jhonny Peralta, 3B5031001 .272
Travis Hafner, DH5000023 .275
Kelly Shoppach, C3121100 .224
Luis Valbuena, 2B4111001 .233
Andy Marte, 1B3110003 .194
Totals38712736  
Batting
2B - Grady Sizemore (17, Crain), Asdrubal Cabrera (29, Blackburn), Shin-Soo Choo (27, Crain)
HR - Grady Sizemore (17, Blackburn), Kelly Shoppach (10, Blackburn), Luis Valbuena (6, Blackburn)
RBI - Grady Sizemore 2 (60), Asdrubal Cabrera (48), Shin-Soo Choo (65), Jhonny Peralta (62), Kelly Shoppach (33), Luis Valbuena (18)
2-OUT RBI - Shin-Soo Choo (28)
SB - Grady Sizemore (11, 2nd base off Manship/Mauer)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - A. Cabrera-Valbuena-Marte, A. Cabrera-Valbuena-Marte, A. Cabrera-Marte
PB - Kelly Shoppach (5)
Cleveland Indians
Aaron Laffey (W,7-3) 5.1533421 3.38
Joe Smith 1100010 2.97
Tony Sipp 1.1100110 4.18
Chris Perez 0.1000000 4.03
Kerry Wood 1111130 4.71
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Laffey 105-60, Joe Smith 15-11, Tony Sipp 27-14, Chris Perez 3-3, Kerry Wood 29-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Laffey 4-8, Tony Sipp 2-0
Batters Faced - Aaron Laffey 23, Joe Smith 4, Tony Sipp 5, Chris Perez 1, Kerry Wood 5
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF4021101 .296
Orlando Cabrera, SS5000024 .281
Joe Mauer, C4010001 .377
Justin Morneau, 1B3000111 .299
Jason Kubel, DH3110102 .312
Michael Cuddyer, RF3110112 .270
Joe Crede, 3B3001111 .232
Delmon Young, LF4112011 .262
Nick Punto, 2B3120110 .209
Totals3248467  
Batting
2B - Michael Cuddyer (25, Laffey), Nick Punto (8, Smith)
HR - Delmon Young (6, Laffey)
RBI - Denard Span (44), Joe Crede (46), Delmon Young 2 (33)
2-OUT RBI - Denard Span (15), Delmon Young 2 (13)
SB - Joe Mauer (2, 2nd base off Sipp/Shoppach)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Morneau-Cabrera, Cabrera-Morneau
E - Orlando Cabrera (18, Misplayed grounder)
Minnesota Twins
Nick Blackburn (L,8-8) 2.1666023 4.29
Jesse Crain 1.2211120 6.75
Jeff Manship 1.2100200 0.00
Jose Mijares 1.1100010 2.36
Matt Guerrier 1100000 2.20
Joe Nathan 1100010 1.61
HBP - Marte (by Nick Blackburn)
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 54-36, Jesse Crain 47-31, Jeff Manship 27-14, Jose Mijares 13-8, Matt Guerrier 9-7, Joe Nathan 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 4-1, Jesse Crain 3-1, Jeff Manship 2-2, Jose Mijares 1-1, Matt Guerrier 1-2
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 14, Jesse Crain 9, Jeff Manship 7, Jose Mijares 4, Matt Guerrier 4, Joe Nathan 4
Game Information
Attendance - 30260
Game Time - 3:28
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Marty Foster, First Base - Chad Fairchild, Second Base - Bob Davidson, Third Base - Wally Bell