MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Aviles didn’t know his numbers against Ricky Nolasco going into Wednesday night’s game. But he’s glad his manager did.
Aviles homered among his three hits and drove in two runs, and rookie T.J. House threw shutout ball into the sixth inning, combining with four relievers to pitch the Cleveland Indians past the Minnesota Twins 5-0.
Indians manager Terry Francona started Aviles at third base and rested regular starter Lonnie Chisenhall, in part because Aviles had a good track record against Nolasco (5-9).
Aviles went 2-for-3 off the Twins starter and drove in the Indians’ third run with a broken-bat single. He’s now 7-for-11 with four RBIs in his career against Nolasco.
“I didn’t even know that. I know I’ve hit some balls decently against (Nolasco) but I didn’t know the numbers,” said Aviles, who homered into the second deck in left field off reliever Sam Deduno in the ninth inning as well.
“I don’t even know what it is. I guess sometimes you just see some pitchers a little better than others.”
Nolasco gave up four runs in 6⅔ innings. He has now given up 17 home runs in 20 starts. No Twins pitcher has allowed more homers or lost more games this season than Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract last December to anchor Minnesota’s rotation.
“They definitely did attack, but that’s something that’s happened throughout my career because they know I’m going to fill up the strike zone for the most part,” Nolasco said. “Sometimes they jump on me a little bit but if you make adjustments and make quality pitches you’ll get guys out.”
House (2-3) gave up four hits while striking out five and walked three. The Indians extended Minnesota’s scoreless streak to 17 innings.
Tito takes the plunge
Francona conducted his postgame press briefing in a soggy uniform after he and his coaches taped an ice bucket challenge in the dugout after the game.
Francona was challenged by Boston manager John Farrell, but he had another Red Sox great on his mind as he was drenched.
“The whole time I was doing it, I don’t want to get all emotional, but I was thinking of Curt Schilling,” Francona said of his former ace pitcher now battling cancer. “I know how near and dear the fight to find a cure for this is to him.”
Twins 2B Brian Dozier became the sixth player in team history with a 20/20 season when he stole second base in the first inning. Torii Hunter was the last Twin to accomplish the feat in 2004. Dozier, who also has 20 homers, posted career highs with 18 home runs and 14 stolen bases last year.
Indians: 1B/OF Nick Swisher underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees on Wednesday. He had been suffering from chronic pain related to cartilage damage. Swisher’s recovery is expected to take eight to 10 weeks.
Twins: RHP Kohl Stewart, the fourth pick in the 2013 MLB draft, was pulled from his start at Class A Cedar Rapids in the second inning Tuesday night when his fastball was registering 5-to-7 mph slower than usual. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he didn’t think Stewart’s situation was serious, and that he hoped Stewart would make another start before the end of the minor league season.
Indians: Corey Kluber (13-6) hasn’t lost since June 30 and can tie for the AL lead in victories if he wins his seventh straight decision today. Kluber has struck out 10 batters five times in his last eight starts.
Twins: Phil Hughes (13-8) also can tie for the AL lead in victories with a win Thursday. Hughes has won three straight starts, allowing just one earned run in each outing.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota
TIME: 1:10 p.m.
WHERE: Target Field, Minneapolis
PITCHERS: Kluber (13-6, 2.41 ERA) vs. Hughes (13-8, 3.76)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM