Indians post eight two-out runs, roll past Rays

Indians post eight two-out runs, roll past Rays

Indians post eight two-out runs, roll past Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Jack Hannahan roped a pitch across the Tropicana Field turf and to the wall in right-center in the fifth inning on Wednesday night, it was as if the Indians third baseman dumped a bucket of water on Cleveland's sleeping offense.

"We were looking a little dead," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The two-run double by Jack got us all pumped up."

Startled out of their recent slumber, the Tribe's bats came alive and pieced together a resilient comeback en route to a 10-6 victory over the Rays. The win was powered by two-out rallies, which accounted for Cleveland's first eight runs and provided more than enough support to overcome a shaky outing from Justin Masterson.

Hannahan ignited the swing in momentum, but the Indians (47-44) had contributions throughout their lineup. Each of the Tribe's first six hitters collected at least two hits, with nine of the 13 hits from that group coming with two outs. Overall, the Indians finished the evening with a 10-for-18 showing with two outs against them.

"That's what made me happy," Acta said. "It's been a while since we got into that. Today we were just yelling in the dugout, 'Come on! Two-out rally. Comeback. Let's go. Two-out rally.' It happened. The guys just put together some tremendous at-bats."

The comeback began in the fifth, when Tampa Bay (47-45) was clinging to a 4-0 lead thanks to a solid outing to that point from right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. The starter walked Carlos Santana and later hit Casey Kotchman with a pitch, setting the table for Hannahan's two-out heroics.

After Hannahan brought both runners in with his two-base hit, Shin-Soo Choo followed by ripping a pitch from Hellickson up the middle for an RBI single, trimming the Rays' lead down to 4-3. That was a good start for Cleveland, but it was nothing compared to the stream of two-out hits that came two innings later.

"The guys, those two-out rallies, just making it happen," said Masterson, who surrendered four runs in 4 1/3 innings. "Early on, there were some close ones and then, finally, they were able to make them pay. That's what you want to do. That's what you want to see."

The game's tipping point came when Choo singled to right field with two outs in the seventh against reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a base hit of his own, convincing Rays manager Joe Maddon to turn the ball over to lefty Jake McGee with runners on the corners and left-handed batter Jason Kipnis at the plate.

Kipnis saw six fastballs, including four that were clocked at 97 mph or higher. Kipnis sent McGee's sixth pitch -- a 98-mph heater on a 2-2 count -- bouncing into center for a run-scoring single, pulling the game into a 4-4 deadlock.

"That was the at-bat of the game," Acta said.

McGee might not disagree, but the lefty also thought he struck Kipnis out on a 1-2 pitch that was called a ball by home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Maddon felt the same, earning an ejection for later getting into a shouting match with Iassogna near the mound.

"It was one of those pitches when you throw it," McGee said, "the majority of the time they call it a strike and you almost want to walk off the mound."

Instead, the ruling went the Tribe's way, and the floodgates were officially opened.

Michael Brantley followed Kipnis with a run-scoring single and Santana -- stuck in an extreme power outage -- drilled a 2-0 pitch from McGee over the wall in center field for a three-run home run. The blast snapped a drought of 138 at-bats (a streak that dated back to May 15) without a long ball for the catcher.

"It was nice to see that," Acta said. "I know that's been weighing on him, especially the power drought that he's had. It's hard on those guys. It takes patience. We do have the patience, but we're not the one actually failing like he is. He must be feeling a lot better today."

The five runs scored by the Indians in the seventh inning equaled the club's run production over the previous three games combined.

For good measure, the Indians pushed a pair of runs across in the ninth inning, finishing the night with a 7-for-12 showing with runners in scoring position. It was more than sufficient for helping Masterson walk away with a no-decision despite struggling against a Tampa Bay team that has given him fits for years.

Masterson, who has a 7.74 ERA in 13 career games against the Rays, issued seven walks and allowed seven hits, creating a steady stream of traffic that led to plenty of trouble. Things could have spiraled out of control for the Tribe in the fifth inning, when Masterson issued a pair of walks and gave up a single to load the bases with one out.

At that juncture, Acta asked reliever Esmil Rogers to find a way out of the jam.

"I don't feel like I've got the bases loaded," Rogers said. "I just come into the game to get the outs. That's what Manny told me: 'Just get the outs.' That's what I did. I said to myself, 'I have to give the team the opportunity to win the game.'"

Rogers did just that, using only breaking balls to strike out Elliot Johnson and induce an inning-ending groundout from B.J. Upton to escape the fifth inning unscathed.

From there, Cleveland's bats woke up, and went to work.

"That was a very big win for us," Acta said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.