Second Thoughts: Game #140 Twins 8, Indians 7
The Indians' offense made a rare appearance in game three of this series, posting seven runs. It was not enough, however, as another short start and some non-relief relief wasted the lineup's strong effort. In lieu of tackle football's first regular season Sunday of the year... The Twins hitting on the two-point conversion was the difference in this one, as they topped the Indians, 8-7.
A shot of offense
Although it wasn't enough this time, the Indians' normally light-hitting offense went off for seven runs for the second time in the series. They capitalized on the Twins' self-inflicted wounds, walking six times and scoring on a wild pitch.
Carlos Santana started the scoring with a leadoff home run in the second inning, the first of his three hits on the day. Three walks and two more hits contributed to two more runs in the inning, but it took a sacrifice fly and the aforementioned wild pitch to actually cash them in. Getting only three runs there was underwhelming, considering the amount of traffic. They added another run to make it a 4-0 lead in the third, courtesy of a Brent Lillibridge sacrifice fly.
After the Twins took that lead away in the third and fourth innings, the Indians responded with three consecutive hits by Michael Brantley, Santana and Russ Canzler in the fifth to steal it back.
The bats were quiet until the eighth, when Jason Donald answered the Twins' run in the previous inning by tripling in one of his own, knotting the score once again.
Despite scoring seven runs, the team was just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, stranding eight baserunners. It's hard to find fault in a seven-run effort, but 15 total baserunners could have very well turned into more runs, particularly in the third inning.
String of inefficient starts
Corey Kluber continued a distrubing recent trend for Indians starting pitchers. Including Jeanmar Gomez and Zach McAllister before him, Manny Acta has gotten 9.1 total innings from his rotation so far in this four-game series. Luckily, there are 16 arms on the team due to expanded rosters.
Kluber was fine until the third inning, when a triple from Joe Mauer and a terrible 0-2 pitch to Justin Morneau that got deposited into the seats cut the Indians' four-run lead to just one.
In the following inning, Kluber was victimized by the Twins' typical brand of baseball. Two singles, an error (really should have been another single) and three stolen bases turned into two more runs, and just like that, the lead was gone. And so was Kluber.
The offense giveth, the bullpen taketh away
It is a lot to ask of a bullpen to pitch five-plus innings, particularly when it has to for three consecutive games. Chris Seddon came on to provide 1.1 perfect innings, but the group had trouble after that.
Esmil Rogers was next, and his first inning of work went smoothly. After allowing a single and a stolen base to open the seventh inning, he made an incredible play, fielding a tough chopper to his right and getting the lead runner hung up and run down. Keep in mind that that was the tying run with no outs. A double followed, and he was forced to intentionally walk the bases loaded before turning the ball over to Tony Sipp.
Sipp got the first out harmlessly, but then the Indians were bitten on an 0-2 pitch for the second time in the game. A two-run single put the Twins back on top again in this seesaw game. Joe Smith came on to get the final out of the seventh inning without incident, and pitched a clean eighth after the Indians tied the game once again.
With the score still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Vinnie Pestano was the fifth reliever summoned from the bullpen. He recorded two quick outs, but would not get a third. Morneau ripped his second home run of the game, the ultimate decider.
Asdrubal Cabrera checks out before actually checking out
Before taking himself out of the game with "right hand soreness," Asdrubal Cabrera had three miserable at-bats. He struck out on four pitches, struck out on three pitches and grounded out. Nine pitches, eight strikes, five whiffs.
Along with his overall production, his plate discipline has gone out the window since the All-Star break.
First half: 34 walks to 45 strikeouts in 304 at-bats
Second half: 14 walks to 41 strikeouts in 194 at-bats
He has worn down late in the season for a second consecutive year, and perhaps the team has taken his lead both times.
- This was the Indians' 10th straight Sunday loss. As the Sunday author of Second Thoughts, I am not amused.
- Canzler's single gave him a hit in all seven games since being promoted. He is 10-for-26 with four runs batted in, after getting just five plate appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays last September.
- The eight and nine hitters in the lineup, Lou Marson and Jason Donald, are both mired in serious slumps. Donald's triple was just his third hit in his last 34 at-bats (.088). Marson's struggles are more longstanding, at 10-for-68 (.147).
- Josh Willingham, who has 14 runs batted in in 13 games against the Indians this season, was given the day off with lingering hamstring soreness.
- Before the game, word came down that Lonnie Chisenhall was activated from Double-A Akron, where he had been rehabbing during a playoff run. Expect him to get plenty of at-bats in the last few weeks of the season, and there is a strong chance that he will play winter ball to make up for lost time.
Next up is game four of this long series in Minnesota, with Justin Masterson taking the mound. Following that, the Indians will travel to Texas for a final set with the Rangers (season series split at three).
For more Indians analysis and statistics, along with ticket giveaways, follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinIPI. He can also be reached by way of email at firstname.lastname@example.org.