The hottest team in baseball cooled off somewhat on Sunday as the Twins defeated the Indians by a score of 4-2.
The Indians, who were winners of their previous six games, had defeated two former Cy Young Award winners during their streak but were silenced by Minnesota right hander Mike Pelfrey during Sunday’s matinee contest.
Coming into the game, the Tribe had posted a .373 team batting average with 14 homeruns since game two of their doubleheader last Sunday night. They had scored six or more runs in six straight games for the first time since 2005 and had 12 or more hits in six straight games for the first time since 1936. Pelfrey (now 3-3) and his 7.66 ERA seemed like the perfect recipe to keep the streak going, but it was not to be.
The Indians countered with Corey Kluber (now 2-1), who had shown impeccable control heading into the contest. The right hander had not walked a batter all season and has pitched well since being called up in mid-April. On Sunday, Kluber did not have the command that he had previously in 2013.
The Twins drew first blood off of Kluber in the second inning when Chris Parmelee drew a one out, four pitch walk. Parmelee then moved to second on a passed ball by catcher Carlos Santana and eventually scored when Trevor Plouffe launched a hanging curveball into the bleachers in left. The homerun gave Minnesota an early 2-0 lead.
The Tribe cut that lead in half in the bottom of the fourth as Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a double into the left field corner off of Pelfrey. When Nick Swisher failed to move him to third, Cabrera stole the bag with a sneaky slide and a questionable call by the umpire. First baseman Mark Reynolds then drove in his team leading 26th RBI of the season by launching a deep sacrifice fly to center field and make the score 2-1. With two outs, the Indians put runners at the corners after back to back singles by Santana and Ryan Raburn, but a Lonnie Chisenhall strikeout ended the Cleveland threat.
Both offenses stayed relatively quiet from then until the sixth inning, when the Twins were able to extend their advantage. Jamey Carroll led off the inning with a single and then back to back walks to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham followed to load the bases. Kluber then surrendered a single to Justin Morneau to score Carroll and make the score 3-1, but a Willingham baserunning mistake gave the Tribe their first out of the inning. A strikeout of Parmelee followed and Kluber was pulled in favor of reliever Cody Allen with two outs. Allen walked Plouffe to reload the bases but was able to strike out Oswaldo Arcia to limit the damage to only one run. For the day, Kluber worked 5.2 innings allowing 3 runs, five hits, four walks and five strikeouts.
Minnesota added another run in the very next inning, this time off of Matt Albers. After retiring the first two batters he faced, Albers gave up a two out walk to Carroll and then an RBI double to Mauer which made the score 4-1.
Pelfrey, meanwhile, was cruising through the Tribe’s previously hot lineup. He allowed only the one run in six innings of work and surrendered four hits and one walk while striking out seven. In his first five starts before Sunday, the right hander had only seven strikeouts on the season. After Pelfrey was pulled, Josh Roenicke, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins worked the rest of the gameto close out the victory. Perkins worked the ninth for his seventh save of the season, but gave up Santana’s sixth homerun of the season and a single to Raburn in the process. The solo shot by Santana put the score at the 4-2 final.
Bright spots for the Indians included Santana and Raburn (two hits each) as well as Scott Barnes, who worked two scoreless innings of relief and struck out four in his first appearance since being recalled from Columbus earlier in the day. Other good news will come on Monday, as Michael Bourn will start his rehab in Triple-A Columbus. To make room for Barnes on the roster, Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment only days after he rejoined the club from Philadelphia.
On Monday, the Indians will try to start another winning streak as they open a four game series against the AL West’s second place Oakland Athletics. The Indians will start Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 7.13), who is coming off his best start of the season, in game one and the A’s will counter with the struggling Jarrod Parker (1-4, 7.36). The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and can be heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Tony Dejak/Associated Press