Second Thoughts: Game #141 Indians 2, Twins 7
The Indians could muster little in the way of offense, as this loss drops Cleveland into a tie with Minnesota for 4th place in the American League Central Division. Justin Masterson started out incredibly well, but unraveled, while the Tribe took the series loss in this four-game set with the Twins. The season trend of poor run support for Masterson continued; coming into the game, the Indians righty had the 6th least amount of run support in the American League (3.48 runs per nine innings pitched). Masterson’s struggles against the Twins continued, as well. Over four starts against Minnesota this season, he has a 7.46 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched.
Tribe bats quiet without Kipnis, Cabrera: Indians hitters struggled on Monday night, amassing just three hits and three walks, which lead to their two runs. It took until one out in the 6th inning for Cleveland to get its first hit, a Michael Brantley single. This hit put runners on the corners to setup the first run, a sac fly off the bat of Carlos Santana to tie the game at one apiece. The offensive highlight of the night came from Lonnie Chisenhall, who blasted a solo shot over the right field wall on a line drive homer. He golfed a low fastball, yanking it out and cutting the deficit to 3-2 at that point in the game. The only other hit of the game came from Brent Lillibridge, a single later in the 7th frame. Tribe bats racked up five 1-2-3 innings, as Minnesota pitching kept the Indians in check.
Microcosm of Masterson’s season: Masterson’s start was just that—a microcosm of the impressive highs and head-scratching lows that he’s endured this season. It took him just 52 pitches to get through the first five innings, as he allowed two singles, a hit batsman, and a run on a Justin Morneau sac fly in a very impressive beginning to his start. He was touching 97 MPH, while flashing great movement and location on his slider, sinker, and four-seamer. Masterson wasted little time in aggressively going right after Twins hitters. Then, much like the rest of his season, he lost his dominant touch and came undone in the 6th.
Pedro Florimon led off with a triple on a hanging slider, followed by a Ben Revere RBI single for the second run. Alexi Casilla and Joe Mauer each grounded out, advancing Revere to second and then third base. Morneau then flipped an outside sinker the other way for a two-out RBI single over a leaping Lillibridge. With one out in the 7th, Matt Carson reached on an infield single to setup another Florimon extra-base hit. The Twins shortstop went the other way on a flat sinker to find the gap in left-center for an RBI double. Revere then grounded out to advance Florimon to third with two outs. On the first pitch to the next batter, Masterson uncorked a wild pitch to allow Florimon to score. After walking Casilla, Masterson’s night was finished, as he ultimately registered an underwhelming line of 6.2 innings pitched, seven hits, six earned runs, two walks, and three strikeouts, after such a promising first five frames. Masterson totaled a whopping 13 ground outs, underscoring how effective the break was on his pitches. Again, with the dominance and struggles, this felt like a small representation of Masterson’s season as a whole.
Deduno dominates: Twins starter, Samuel Deduno dazzled Tribe bats over seven innings of three-hit, two-run ball. In each of his two previous starts against the Tribe this season, Deduno walked five batters; he trimmed that down enough in this game, walking three. He is known as a wild pitcher, but harnessed his mixture of pitches to keep the Indians off balance. Of his 108 pitches, 72 were strikes, highlighting his ability to throw enough strikes to succeed. He didn’t allow a hit until the 6th inning, as he pinned a helpless Indians lineup under his thumb. Deduno used his multiple breaking pitches in any count, as he worked both sides of the plate. He didn’t do anything fancy, just attacked hitters and stayed sharp enough to keep Cleveland from stringing together a sustained rally.
No at-bats with RISP: Although Carlos Santana’s 6th inning sac fly came with a runner on third, the Indians did not have an official at-bat with a runner in scoring position in this game. More than any other stat, this shows exactly how limited the Tribe’s offense was. It’s hard to win when you don’t accumulate the necessary amount of run scoring chances.
Twins stellar defense: Minnesota flashed some impressive defense throughout this contest. In the 2nd inning, Cord Phelps was the first Tribe hitter to make solid contact, but was robbed by Revere, who made a diving catch in center field to end the inning. In the 7th, Florimon made a barehanded snag and Morneau dug out the throw nicely to retire Kotchman. Casilla laid out in the 8th to snag a sharp Michael Brantley liner, followed by another impressive play from Casilla in the final frame, in which he threw out Kotchman at first, while falling forward.
Tribe relievers can’t keep it close: In his 2nd appearance with the Indians, southpaw Scott Maine relieved Masterson in the 7th, but allowed the inherited runner to score. Casilla, who reached on a Masterson walk, stole second base to setup a Mauer RBI single for the sixth run. Frank Herrmann served a flat slider up in the zone for Ryan Doumit’s solo homer to dead center in the 8th. It likely wouldn’t have mattered, as the Indians offense did little, but these extra runs buried any fleeting chance the Tribe had at coming back.
3 Most Wanted
More good at-bats for Chisenhall: Although his 7th inning home run is the box score highlight, for both Chisenhall and the Indians offense as a whole, it was his first at-bat that impressed me. Chisenhall worked an eleven pitch at-bat, which ended with a walk. He got ahead 2-0 before having to battle and foul off several pitches, including five straight. Chisenhall then took the 10th and 11th pitches of the at-bat for balls. If he can continue to show this type of patience, while interjecting a shot of power here and there, Chisenhall should have little trouble in securing the third base job heading into next season.
More smooth 1st frames: After watching the Indians give up 94 earned runs over 141 1st innings this season (4th most in MLB), it was refreshing to watch Masterson dispose of the Twins in the 1st frame with just six pitches. It was a great way to start, as it setup an impressive first several frames for the Tribe starter, who was able to settle in and attack Twins hitters.
A leadoff hitter to reach base: The Indians were 0-for-9 in getting leadoff hitters on base in this game. This lack of leadoff base runners correlates to the team’s dearth of at-bats with runners in scoring position.