CLEVELAND -- Derek Lowe was cruising, and Johnny Damon wanted to keep it that way.
It was the sixth inning on Friday night, and Minnesota's Denard Span sent a line drive in the direction of Damon in left field. Lowe had allowed just two hits to that point, and Damon was willing to do whatever it took to preserve his friend's shutout.
Damon and Lowe played together for three years with the Red Sox from 2002-04, three of the best statistical years of each player's career. They won a World Series together in 2004.
When Damon chased down the Span liner and made a diving catch, it looked like it was 2004 again.
"It felt like old times," Damon said. "The ball stayed low, so it couldn't get caught in the lights and all that stuff. You always want to make plays for whoever is pitching, but Derek and I do go back a long time. It definitely felt good."
Damon has gotten a good amount of time in left field since joining the Indians, but it has been some time since Damon was an everyday outfielder. He was mostly used as a designated hitter for the Tigers and Rays the last two seasons.
Damon said many of the teams he talked to during the offseason didn't believe he could still be a good defensive outfielder. That's one of the reasons he didn't get a job until after Spring Training.
Damon showed on Friday night that he's still plenty capable of making a play.
"That was a tremendous catch," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "People tend to forget that, it's been awhile, but this guy used to be a center fielder. It's been awhile and he's been DHing a lot, but his legs are still there and he can move around pretty good."
Santana could return on Tuesday
CLEVELAND -- Indians catcher Carlos Santana could return to the lineup as early as Tuesday or Wednesday at Detroit, manager Manny Acta said Saturday. Santana has been on the seven-day concussion list since being hit in the mask by a foul tip on May 25 against the White Sox.
Santana ran the bases, took batting practice on the field, and threw to the bases from behind the plate on Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field.
"He responded well," Acta said. "Now he's going to take a neurological test [in the clubhouse], and we'll go from there. It all depends on the test and being approved by [Major League Baseball]."
The Indians had been playing with their third catcher, Luke Carlin, until Lou Marson returned to the lineup on Friday. Marson went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first game back after missing the previous three with a mouth injury.
Entering Saturday night's game against the Twins, Marson and Carlin had gone a combined 6-for-21 in seven games since Santana's injury.
Brantley heating up for Indians
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have gotten a lot of production from young infielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis in recent games. The duo combined for two home runs and six RBIs in Cleveland's 7-1 win on Friday night.
Michael Brantley is also on the list of young Indians who are playing well. Brantley doesn't have the home-run power of Chisenhall and Kipnis, but he's as hot as any hitter on the roster.
Brantley entered Saturday's game against the Twins with a 10-game hitting streak, during which he has hit .368 with three doubles and eight RBIs. The Indians center fielder entered the day tied with Texas' Adrian Beltre for the longest current hitting streak in the American League.
Brantley had a slow start this season after hitting .266 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs in 114 games in 2011. Brantley was batting just .196 as late as April 24, and he entered the month of May with a .238 average.
"At the beginning of the season, he was hitting a lot of balls hard right at people," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That's part of the game, but he didn't panic. It helped that, last year, he played well up here. He knows that he's going to play every single day, so he had the confidence to come every day and continue to work."
Eventually, the hits started coming for Brantley, who has raised his average 22 points, to .277, during his hitting streak. Brantley already had 16 doubles in 195 at-bats entering Saturday, only eight fewer than he had in 461 at-bats last season.
And he's striking out less, which means he's putting the ball in play more. Brantley had only 18 strikeouts entering Saturday. He struck out 76 times last season.
"He's back in the groove and swinging the bat well," Acta said. "He's done a tremendous job."
Kipnis had a rough start to Friday's game. He was hit in the back of the head while trying to steal second, and then took a hit from Minnesota's Ryan Doumit as he completed a double play. But Kipnis blasted his first career grand slam in the fourth inning.
"It just woke me up and got me going a little bit," Kipnis said.
Entering Saturday, Chisenhall had two home runs in his first 13 at-bats this season. He hit a two-run homer in the second inning on Friday night.
"That's a little ahead of my pace," Chisenhall said. "I'm not a big homer guy. I'd love to keep it going, though."
Former Indians infielder Carlos Baerga and outfielder Albert Belle are in Cleveland for the weekend series against the Twins. Both players made appearances on Sports Time Ohio's television broadcast Friday night, and Baerga bobbleheads will be given out Saturday night. Belle played for the Indians from 1989-96 and Baerga was with the Tribe from 1990-96. Baerga threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game against the Twins.
Acta admitted it would have been a tough call to send Mets pitcher Johan Santana back out for the ninth inning to complete his no-hit bid Friday night if he was the team's manager, given Santana's injury history.
"But from a common-sense standpoint, you've got to give the guy a shot to throw the no-hitter," Acta said. "History is there. How many guys throw a no-hitter in this game? You gotta let the guy go."
Quote to note
"I tell people I'm no longer a prospect."
--Indians pitcher Derek Lowe, who turned 39 on Friday.
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.