Justin Masterson had another disappointing start and the Indians couldn’t keep pace with the Twins as Cleveland fell to Minnesota, 6-3, in the rubber match of a three-game weekend series at Progressive Field. The Tribe fell to 28-25 as the White Sox’ AL Central lead increased to 2.5 games, while the Twins finally reached 20 wins on the season (it took them only 53 games!).
It didn’t take long for the Twins to get on the board. Denard Span led off with a walk, then stole second before Joe Mauer brought him home with an RBI single. They scored again in the third as Mauer drew a two-out walk before Josh Willingham doubled him to third and Justin Morneau singled him home, and Brian Dozier‘s wheels got Minnesota on the board in the fourth: he reached with a bunt single, moved to second on Masterson’s wild pitch, took third on Trevor Plouffe‘s bunt, and scored on Alexi Casilla‘s sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
The Indians finally responded in the bottom of the fourth. Jason Kipnis reached on Dozier’s error to start the inning, and Asdrubal Cabrera‘s single put runners at the corners with nobody out. Jose Lopez brought Kipnis home on a sacrifice fly and Shelley Duncan‘s RBI single scored Cabrera to cut the deficit to 3-2.
But the Twins weren’t done. Willingham and Ryan Doumit both knocked Nick Hagadone around for RBI hits in the top of the seventh, and Casilla plated another run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth. The Tribe scored only once after the fourth inning—the just-recalled Matt LaPorta reached on Plouffe’s error and scored on Lou Marson‘s RBI double—as Minnesota breezed to an easy 6-3 victory.
The Good: It was a pretty rough game for the Tribe. The only real offensive highlights were Shin-Soo Choo, who went 2-for-4 with a double, and Michael Brantley, who also went 2-for-4. Also, for what it’s worth, Chris Perez through a nine-pitch perfect ninth inning. So much for struggling in non-save situation.
The Bad: Justin Masterson. Yes, he pitched a quality start, but he clearly was not on his game Sunday. He allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out only three Twins batters while walking three and serving up a wild pitch. Of the half-dozen frames he threw, only one was a 1-2-3 inning.
The offensive also had a rough day. All three runs the Tribe scored were unearned, so Scott Diamond essentially goes down in the scorebook with seven shutout innings. Also, not a single one of the 36 men who stepped to the plate for Cleveland drew a walk,
The “Huh?”: Your Nos. 4 through 7 hitters for Sunday: Matt LaPorta, Shelley Duncan, Michael Brantley, Jose Lopez. Except in reverse order—i.e., Lopez, Brantley, Duncan, LaPorta. Much as I’m thrilled that LaPorta has been promoted, I’m not sure what the rationale is for hitting him and Duncan behind Lopez.
Interesting Tidbit: The Indians lead all of baseball with 207 walks taken, yet Sunday was the second time they’d gone all nine innings without walking in seven games. Gavin Floyd, Will Ohman, Nate Jones, and Hector Santiago combined to hold the Tribe walkless in a 12-6 White Sox win last Sunday.