Tribe Beaten and Embarrassed for Second Straight Night; Twins 12, Indians 5
By Mike Brandyberry
If the Indians management is looking for a sign as to whether they should be buyers or sellers, the sign has been clear over the last two days. After an embarrassing 11-0 defeat last night, the Indians followed it up with a 12-5 beating Saturday evening.
Justin Masterson started so promising, retiring the first 11 hitters he faced in the game, but couldn’t overcome questionable umpire calls or two out base hits.
It appeared as if the Indians had life in the top of the first inning when Shin-Soo Choo singled to right field and stole second base to start the game. After Michael Brantley walked, Jason Kipnis moved both runners to scoring position, Carlos Santana grounded to third base to score Choo and give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile Justin Masterson seemed to be in complete control for three innings. He motored through the Minnesota lineup, carving up the first 11 hitters he faced. It appeared as if the Indians and Masterson were on their way to another low-scoring battle to the finish.
It was as good as it would get.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, it appeared Masterson had rung up Joe Mauer to end the inning, however, it was called a ball and he eventually walked. The next hitter, Josh Willingham, hit a ball deep into the left field seats to give the Twins a 2-1 lead after four innings.
The questionable calls and poor production would continue. With an out in the fifth inning, Danny Valencia grounded to third base but Jack Hannahan’s throw was wide and according to first base umpire Chris Guccione pulled Casey Kotchman off the bag. Replays from several angles would show Kotchman caught the ball and held the bag. The missed call helped set the table for a Minnesota beating.
Brian Dozier would single and Alexi Casilla would triple off the right field wall to make the score 4-1, Minnesota. After another out was retired Ben Revere would drive home Casilla giving the Twins a 5-1 lead after five innings.
While the Indians were probably out of reach of the victory after five innings, the Twins made sure they’d never catch up in the sixth. Minnesota tacked on five more runs on Masterson, highlighted by two-run doubles by Casilla and Denard Span each. Masterson would be chased from the game with only two outs, but Revere would drive home the final run of the inning to make it 10-1 Twins.
Masterson was tagged for seven hits over five and two-third innings, allowing ten runs—eight of them earned—while walking two and striking out two. It may have been Masterson’s worst start of the season.
Esmil Rogers would relieve Masterson in the sixth inning, but allow another Minnesota run in the seventh when Valencia would double to deep left centerfield to score Willingham and make the score 11-1.
The Indians would try to save some face in the top of the eighth when Santana hit a two run home run to left field to make it 11-3. Tony Sipp would allow a run in the bottom of the eighth to the Twins to make the score, 12-3. The Twins scored in five consecutive innings, not just beating the Tribe, but embarrassing a team who believes they are still contending for a Central Division title. Cleveland would score two more runs in the top of the ninth but the result of the contest had long been decided.
With less than 72 hours until the trade deadline, it’s tough to find a reason to believe the Indians are true contenders in the division or wild card. The Tribe now stands at 50-51 on the season and 5.5 games in back of the division leading Chicago White Sox.
After two games of the Tribe’s nine game road trip, they’ve been outscored 23-5. Sunday the Indians will send Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 4.97 ERA) to the mound to try and snap the skid against the Twins’ lefty, Francisco Liriano (3-10, 5.31 ERA).
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images