By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
Following a lackluster performance on Friday, the Tribe needed a lift in front of its home fans on Saturday night. It got one from Zach McAllister, and also from a regrouped offense, as it ran away from Minnesota, 7-2.
The series is now even at one game apiece with the rubber match to be played at 1:05 p.m. today.
McAllister (7-7, 3.51 ERA) went 71⁄3 innings, allowing the two runs on just four hits, two walks and a hit batter while striking out five.
“It was a good night to pitch,” manager Terry Francona said. “The wind was blowing in and the ballpark played big. Zach established fastball strike one, and then used the ballpark and (Michael Bourn) ran some balls down (in center field).”
McAllister, who missed more than 11⁄2 months of the season with a finger injury before returning after the All-Star break, won his third straight start, and has a 1.83 ERA with 13 hits allowed in 192⁄3 innings during that span. All three of those wins came after an Indians loss.
“I think it looks like he hadn't skipped a beat,” Francona said. “He worked so hard when he was down. A lot of times when guys come back, maybe they start to tire because of repetition. He's strong; he looks really good.”
“I felt like I was able to make some adjustments over that time off in both my delivery a little bit and feel a little bit more comfortable,” McAllister said. “I think that's been helpful also, and just being able to attack the zone.”
Bryan Shaw and Marc Rzepczynski shut down the Twins (57-71) the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley broke out of hitless slumps as Kipnis and Carlos Santana each slugged a two-run homer.
Cleveland (70-59) remains six games behind Detroit in the AL East Division and 21⁄2 games behind Oakland for the second wild card spot, although it moved one-half game ahead of Baltimore and into second place in the latter pursuit.
Santana put Cleveland on top when he hammered a Liam Hendriks offering 413 feet into the right-field seats with a man on.
“Carlos gave us a nice lift — absolutely crushed that ball,” Francona said.
“That ball was really hit, because the ballpark was playing big tonight,” Francona said. “There were some balls that were hit on both sides pretty well, and Bournie caught a couple at the track that I thought were really hit well. Carlos — that didn't matter how much the wind was blowing.”
Santana said that despite the wind, he did think the ball would leave the park.
“I made good contact with the home run,” he said.
The Twins got one back in the third on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Dozier.
Kipnis, who had snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a first-inning single, lined a two-run shot over the right-field wall in the third to make it 4-1.
“When he hit the (single) up the middle, it kind of looked like he took a deep breath, and got back to being Kip,” Francona said. “That was really good to see.”
The Indians added three more in the fifth. A double to right-center off the bat of Nick Swisher knocked in the first two runs, Moments later, after Anthony Swarzak had replaced Hendriks (0-2, 6.20), Michael Brantley broke an 0-for-22 slump by hitting a line single off the glove of Oswaldo Arcia in left, to score Swisher from third.
“It's exciting; it's nice as a pitcher to be able to take that time off (while the offense bats),” McAllister said. “You can take as long a break as you want as long as the hitters are putting up runs like that. It gives us confidence to go out there and put the ball in the strike zone as pitchers, and let our defense play.”
“It was a great game, coming back from last night, (with) how we lost,” Santana said. “We had (6) hits.”
Dozier homered in the eighth to provide Minnesota's second run.
Ryan Pressly also pitched for the Twins.
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.