Boone had a two-run double and Jake Westbrook outpitched
Minnesota ace Johan Santana to lead the Indians to their fifth
straight victory, 3-2 over the Twins on Sunday.
"You might say I'm having a bit more fun this April," cracked
Boone, hitting .344 through six games after grinding through a
9-for-73 (.123) first month of 2005.
Eduardo Perez homered as Cleveland improved to 5-1 for its best
start since opening the 2002 at 11-1. The Indians have not had a
winning April since, including a 9-14 record last year.
"We're six games into the season," cautioned Perez. "But
we're getting good pitching, good fielding and guys like Travis
Hafner are really hitting well."
Hafner drew a first-inning walk, reaching base safely for his
11th consecutive at-bat. He lined out to left-center leading off
the fourth, ending his streak, and finished 0-for-3.
Westbrook (2-0) gave up two hits and one run over 6 1-3 innings,
walking two and striking out four. The right-hander didn't earn his
second win in 2005 until May 29 after opening 1-9.
"Jake was fantastic," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "He
had that sinker working throughout."
Kubel stole second without a glance from Mota and scored one out
later on Shannon Stewart's single to make it 3-1.
Santana (0-2) gave up three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings,
raising his ERA to 5.73 and losing his first two decisions for the
first time since 2000. He walked three and struck out five.
"Even though they pulled me out, I still felt strong," said
Santana, who also admitted that Cleveland's patience at the plate
put pressure on him early.
"Those guys are pretty good," he said. "They make you work
and go deep into the count."
The Twins are 1-5 for the first time since starting 1-7 in 1994
and have lost six straight at Jacobs Field.
Perez, signed as a free agent to give the Indians some
production against lefty pitchers, hit his second homer with one
out in the fourth for a 1-0 lead. His other homer came in his only
other start, opening day against Chicago lefty Mark Buehrle.
"He missed his spot with a fastball, but any ball can be hit,"
Perez said. "Sometimes, you just have to be fortunate. You have to
forget about the previous at-bat and go do your best."
Perez had grounded into a force play with the bases loaded on
Santana's 36th pitch of the first inning.
"But that was a heck of an at-bat, too," Boone said. "We
didn't score, but we got Santana's pitch count up there. You've got
to bear down against him or he's going to make you look bad."
Jhonny Peralta opened Cleveland's sixth with a single off the
glove of third baseman Batista. The Indians' shortstop is 2-for-19
with 14 strikeouts in his career against Santana.
"He's the best left-hander I've faced," Peralta said. "To get
a hit off him made me feel good."
One out later, Peralta went to third on a looping double by
Victor Martinez that fell just in front of diving left fielder
Right-hander Juan Rincon replaced Santana and walked
pinch-hitter Ben Broussard to load the bases. Boone ruined the
strategy by slapping a 1-2 pitch to center that fell in front of
Hunter for a two-run double.
Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard missed his second straight game
with a strained calf. His replacement, Ramon Vazquez, went 0-for-7
with five strikeouts in the two games. ... The Twins avoided being
shut out in consecutive games by Cleveland for the first time since
May 3-4, 1968, when right-handers Luis Tiant and Steve Hargan did
it. ... Twins DH Rondell White struck out twice and is 2-for-22
(.091) with eight strikeouts this season.