Lofton brings more than luck, batting 3-for-5 in 10-4 victory over Minnesota.
If the Indians needed a clubhouse endorsement for the addition of Kenny Lofton, they got one Friday night.
“He brings good luck to me,” shortstop Jhonny Peralta said with a smile after hitting two home runs and driving in five runs during a 10-4 rout of Minnesota at Jacobs Field. “Hopefully he’ll bring good luck to the team, too.”
Lofton brought more than good luck during the first game of his third tour of duty in Cleveland. He was 3-for-5 with a bunt single and an RBI hit. Perhaps more importantly, his addition in a trade from Texas earlier in the day revived the sagging spirits of his team (8-11 since July 3) and put a charge into the crowd of 37,292.
“It’s nice to show the fans of Cleveland I still have a little bit left,” the 40-year-old left fielder said. “I treat the fans with respect, and they return it with respect. Hopefully we can get a good thing going.”
Perhaps the best of the good things was the signal sent to the players who have an opportunity to earn the Tribe’s first postseason berth since 2001.
“It picks our mood up,” winning pitcher Paul Byrd said. “Management wants to win. It’s not just his numbers. It’s a guy we’re excited to have in the clubhouse.”
The fans certainly appeared excited, paying homage to Lofton each time he touched the ball and enjoying Cleveland’s sixth consecutive victory over Minnesota this season.
“I’m really pleased for the Cleveland fans, and for Kenny, the way they reacted and responded that way,” Manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s off to a great start for us. It was a feel-good type of situation for everyone involved.”
Trot Nixon singled twice and doubled in four at-bats, while Josh Barfield singled, doubled and drove in two runs. Peralta, who hadn’t hit a home run since July 1, belted his 15th and 16th of the season.
Twins starter Boof Bonser (5-7) retired just two of the 11 batters he faced in the third inning as the Indians jumped to a 6-0 lead. Two Minnesota errors helped keep the inning alive, and Peralta crushed a three-run homer into the left-field seats. He would add a two-run shot off reliever Juan Rincon in the sixth inning.
“Jhonny can drive the ball out of the ballpark anywhere,” Wedge said.
The Twins weren’t driving the ball much of anywhere off Byrd (9-4).
The veteran right-hander worked six shutout innings, allowing just one runner into scoring position, before Jason Kubel hit a two-run home run with one out in the seventh.
Byrd had to turn the game over to the bullpen when the first three batters of the eighth reached safely.
“I’m a little frustrated because I wanted to give our bullpen a night off and the wheels fell off late,” Byrd said. “I felt like I got into a groove early, and we did score a bunch of runs.”
Byrd, who earned only one victory through a stretch of eight starts in June and July, has now won two in a row. His ERA over his last seven starts is 3.78.
Lofton was initiated into what he calls “the new Tribe” by taking a pie in the face from teammate Trot Nixon during a postgame television interview.
“I had my back turned,” Lofton moaned. “I was trying to do a nice interview. Then, the camera guy flinched, then I flinched.
“It tasted pretty good, actually.”
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail email@example.com.