The Cleveland Indians have had a rough first couple days of 2019, capped off by a loss to the Twins that is probably best left unspoken of going forward.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the most frustrating aspect of the Cleveland Indians series-deciding, 9-3 loss to the Twins on Sunday afternoon.
Was it the fact that Carlos Santana led off three different innings with hits and never crossed the plate? Was it the uncharacteristically shaky showing from Carlos Carrasco, who gave up six earned runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings of work? Or was it the fact that the Indians made things so easy on Twins starter Michael Pineda, who took the mound Sunday in a real baseball game for the first time in 20 months?
Santana was thrown out on a base-running mistake on the first of his four hits as he got a tad aggressive on an infield single. In the fifth, his inning-opening single was followed by a strikeout, a walk, a pop-out to first base and another strikeout. In the seventh, much of the same: strikeout, fielder’s choice, strikeout. Finally in the eighth inning, Santana’s lumber work paid off as he drove in three runs on a bases-loaded double. Fittingly enough, it was too late by that point.
Carrasco never looked like himself on Sunday. It’s rare to see the Indians understated third starter get knocked around, but that’s precisely what the Twins did when they chased him in the fifth inning. Carrasco ended his outing having given up five doubles and a home run to Minnesota. Still, if anyone responsible for Sunday’s string of blunders deserves a pass with the understanding that it probably isn’t going to happen all that often, it’s him.
Minnesota pulled Pineda after 40 pitches, clearly in an effort to ease him back into a full starter’s workload. The problem is that despite the low pitch count, he was still able to give the Twins four full innings of work. He ended his day with five strikeouts, one hit and one walk.
Adding insult to injury, in the bottom of the fifth inning, as things spiraled wildly out of control for the Tribe, Willians Astudillo hit a fly ball to Leonys Martin with runners on second and third. Santana cut off the throw home as Jonathan Schoop tagged up from second, then airmailed the ball over the head of Jose Ramirez, giving the Twins an extra run and truly putting the finishing touches on an all-around discouraging opening-weekend series.
Regardless of which maddening element of Sunday’s defeat stands out the most, the Indians can’t leave Target Field behind fast enough. Cleveland scored five runs and struck out 39 times in three games. Take away a heat-seeking rocket off the bat of Hanley Ramirez in Saturday’s lone victory, and the only performances worth talking about in a positive light are those of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer.
The Tribe will return to the friendly confines of Progressive Field to face the White Sox in their home opener on Monday. Mike Clevinger will make his first start of the season as the Indians set out to erase all that went wrong in the first series of 2019.