CLEVELAND (AP) — For the first time in 13 days, there were actually some smiles in the Indians’ clubhouse following a game.
And with good reason.
The Indians broke their 11-game losing streak — a stretch that consisted of blowouts and mind-boggling late defeats — with a 6-4 win over Minnesota on Wednesday.
Cleveland, which was outscored 95-36 during the slide, avoided tying the 1931 franchise record for consecutive losses with its first win since July 26.
Justin Masterson pitched seven strong innings and Shin-Soo Choo went 4 for 4 with two RBIs to finally give the Indians something to feel positive about.
“I’m sure there was relief in all of Cleveland and every Cleveland fan in the country,” Masterson said. The right-hander then drew a long sigh and said, “We can win.”
Manager Manny Acta, who tried to stay upbeat during the skid, admitted his team had started to fall into the inevitable trap that occurs when a streak keeps growing.
“You start playing not to lose instead of playing to win,” he said. “That’s human nature.”
Acta admitted the streak was difficult to deal with since this was a team-wide collapse. The starting pitching and offense topped the list, but those areas have been inconsistent all season. All-Star closer Chris Perez blew two saves in three days, the infield defense — one of the team’s strengths — committed three errors in the last three innings Tuesday, blowing a 5-1 lead.
“You feel helpless at times because you have very little control of a lot of things,” he said. “I had never seen anything like this before and I hope I never see it (again).”
Acta praised his players for keeping their heads up as the defeats mounted.
“Our guys stayed pretty strong mentally the whole time,” he said. “It’s a credit to them.”
The Indians went from 3 1/2 games to 9 1/2 games behind Chicago in the AL Central during the streak and Choo admitted staying upbeat has been difficult.
“Baseball is not easy,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of the players and coaches. We’ve played hard and tried to stay positive.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team was 15-32 on May 27, is familiar with what the Indians have gone through.
“We’ve been there,” he said. “There isn’t any room for feeling sorry for anybody else because we all go through it. They’re battling their tails off. Eventually it will turn around for them, but, boy, when you’re going through it, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to turn around.”
Masterson (8-10) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings. His only mistake came when Alexi Casilla hit his first home run of the season — a two-run shot in the fifth.
Acta thought Masterson’s performance was the key factor in the Indians finally getting a win.
“As usual, pitching sets the tone,” he said. “Pitching got us into this mess and pitching got us out of it.”
Choo drove in two runs with a double in the first and a single in the second.
Brian Duensing (2-7) allowed six runs, including four earned, and 11 hits in seven innings.
The Indians also broke a seven-game losing streak to the Twins, who lost for only the fourth time in 13 games.
Ben Revere was hitless in four at-bats, ending his 21-game hitting streak. The Twins won three of four in Boston before coming to Cleveland and finished their road trip 5-2.
“This was a very good road trip,” Gardenhire said. “Hopefully we’ll get back home and show our fans the same thing we’ve done on the road.”
Jason Kipnis walked to start the first, stole second and scored on Choo’s double to center. Carlos Santana followed with a line drive single up the middle.
An error by second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka — his third in three games since being called up from the minors — helped Cleveland score twice in the second. After Casey Kotchman singled, Nishioka made a diving stop behind second, but tried to flip the ball with his glove to Brian Dozier. The toss wasn’t even close and an error was charged.
Two-out singles by Cabrera and Choo scored the runs.
Nishioka’s misadventures continued in the sixth. He lost Shelley Duncan’s routine popup a few feet into the outfield in the sun and it fell for a double. After a sacrifice and the infield playing in, he made a high throw to the plate on Kotchman’s grounder and pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera scored. Kipnis added a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Casilla started for the first time in the series and played third base. … The Twins are off Thursday and begin a three-game series at Target Field against Tampa Bay on Friday. Cole De Vries (2-2) faces Jeremy Hellickson in a matchup of right-handers. … DH Travis Hafner (back soreness) missed his third straight game for Cleveland. Acta said Hafner was having an MRI and he would know more about the injury Thursday. … The Indians begin a four-game series at home against Boston on Thursday night. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11) meets LHP Felix Doubront (10-5).