April 20, 2014

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Cabrera comes through in clutch as Indians down Twins in 11th inning

CLEVELAND – It’s safe to say that the 13,832 fans in attendance Saturday at Progressive Field got their money’s worth.

Not only did they enjoy bargain-priced $1 hot dogs and an extended entertaining baseball game, they also took in a victory for the home team – the Indians turning back the Twins 5-4 in 11 innings.

In front of one of the bigger home crowds of the season on “Dollar Dog Night,” Cleveland tied it with two runs in the eighth inning before winning it on Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-out single in the 11th.

If you’re a Cleveland sports fan, it was probably better to be across the street taking in the Cavaliers’ Game 1 victory over the Celtics at The Q, but this was a pretty good consolation prize.

“The offense came back and the bullpen held it,” said Indians starter Justin Masterson, who allowed four runs on 10 hits through 72/3 innings. “It was a great win. It was a good night in Cleveland, with the Cavs winning, too.”

The Indians trailed from the first inning on until rallying to tie it with three consecutive two-out hits off Shaker Heights graduate Matt Guerrier in the eighth. Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo drove in the runs with back-to-back doubles.

All three of the Indians’ final runs of the game came with two outs.

“I would rather do it with no outs or one out,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose team won for the fifth time in six games at home. “I really don’t want to wait until there’s two outs.

“Asdrubal has been huge for us so far and he got another big hit.”

The Indians squandered a chance to win the game in the 10th inning when Lou Marson was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a single from Sizemore, and they looked like they were headed in that direction again in the 11th.

Cleveland loaded the bases off Twins reliever Alex Burnett before hard-throwing Jesse Crain came on and retired Mark Grudzielanek and Marson. Grudzielanek’s soft liner to left was too shallow to score a run and Marson struck out.

But with everything resting on Cabrera, he came through by ripping a 1-1 pitch from Crain into right-center to score pinch runner Luis Valbuena with the winning run.

“(Crain’s) got a really good fastball,” Cabrera said. “I was waiting for that pitch and I hit it good.”

Like the Twins in the 10th, the Indians also got out of a sticky situation once extra innings arrived, Minnesota loading the bases with one out in the 11th off relievers Aaron Laffey and Jamey Wright. Wright got them out of the jam by inducing backup catcher Drew Butera to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

Masterson remained winless (0-3) despite an acceptable outing that saw the right-hander strike out seven. He has just one win in 15 starts since joining Cleveland’s rotation after arriving in a trade with the Red Sox last year.

Masterson started slowly, allowing two runs in the first on a two-out single from former Indian Jim Thome, then another in the second on a two-out solo homer from Denard Span.

But from there, Masterson was on the mark, shutting the Twins out over the next five innings, before Justin Morneau’s solo shot in the eighth put Minnesota in front 4-2.

“He threw the ball very well after a rough start,” Acta said. “He had great command of his fastball. We continue to believe that if he has command of his fastball, he will be effective, because he has good velocity on it.”

The sputtering Cleveland bats appeared early and often against Twins starter Jeff Manship, who was making his first start of the season after being called up to fill the roster spot of Nick Blackburn, who left the team for a family emergency.

Manship, who made his big league debut against Cleveland last year, allowed just two runs on five hits over six innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked one.

Down 3-0 after the Twins batted in the second, the Indians closed the gap with a run in the bottom of the second on Jhonny Peralta’s second homer of the year and another in the third.

Thome, Cleveland’s all-time leader with 334 homers, was in the lineup after sitting out the series opener. He was booed lustily when he returned to Cleveland as a member of the White Sox, but this time around, he got a mixture of cheers and boos from the Progressive Field crowd.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.

TODAY

• WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota
• TIME: 1:05 p.m.
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Huff (1-3, 4.10 ERA) vs. Liriano (3-0, 0.93).
• TV/RADIO: Channel 3, SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-A