The Cleveland Indians’ lineup came alive at the end of their six-game road trip. It didn’t miss a beat in their return home.
The Indians will look to ride their streaking offense to a third straight win as they host the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
After batting .184 during the first four games of a six-game road trip, Cleveland (54-48) has recorded double-digit hits in three straight contests. That culminated in an 18-hit performance in the Indians’ 11-8 extra-inning victory over the Rangers on Friday.
Three of those came in the 11th, with Ryan Raburn’s homer ending it after Cleveland blew a six-run lead.
“We may not have the best talent, but we have by far one of the tightest teams,” first baseman Nick Swisher said. “No one was excited about going to extra innings, but we’re always going to keep fighting hard and finding ways to win.”
Asdrubal Cabrera, Mike Aviles and Michael Brantley each finished with three hits. It was Brantley’s first multi-hit performance since July 8.
The Indians’ offense is starting to come alive, but their rotation has been sparkling for some time. Cleveland’s starters have posted a 2.04 ERA since July 9, the best in the AL in that span.
It’s hard to be much better than Justin Masterson (11-7, 3.60 ERA) was his last time out. The right-hander held Minnesota hitless through six, and wound up leaving after seven having given up only Brian Dozier’s broken-bat bloop double and one run in a 7-1 win on Sunday.
“He was filthy,” Dozier told MLB.com. “The whole game, he kept powering sinkers and just fell off the table.”
Masterson has been anything but filthy against Texas (56-47), going 0-4 with a 7.54 ERA in four career starts. He hasn’t faced the Rangers since September 2011, though.
Yu Darvish (9-4, 2.86) is also coming off a strong start, as he surrendered two hits in 6 1-3 innings of Texas’ 3-0 win over the New York Yankees on Monday. After hitting the first batter he faced, the right-hander retired 11 straight.
Darvish has failed to last seven innings in five straight starts. After he went seven-plus in seven of eight starts, averaging 15.9 pitches per inning, the right-hander has been less efficient of late, with 17.8 pitches per inning.
He needed 112 pitches to get through six in his lone start against the Indians, allowing four runs but striking out 11 in a 4-2 loss May 6, 2012.
Darvish had the highest run-support average in the majors through his first nine starts, getting 9.05 runs per nine innings, but that offensive assistance has all but disappeared over the past two months. He’s received 2.77 runs of support on average over his past 10 outings, one of the worst marks in the AL.
The Rangers, who have lost 10 of 13, finally saw their bats come to life late Friday. An offense that had topped four runs just once in 12 games coming into Progressive Field scored two apiece in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
“We could have very easily given up, but we didn’t,” manager Ron Washington said.
Elvis Andrus scored twice and singled to extend his hitting streak to eight games. He has five hits and four strikeouts in 10 career at-bats against Masterson.
David Murphy is 4 for 4 with a pair of homers against Masterson, while A.J. Pierzynski is 14 for 33 (.424).
Adrian Beltre came into Cleveland hitting just .214 since the All-Star break, but he had three hits Friday.