A Good Start Spoiled; Twins 3, Indians 2

The Indians may be finding the second starter for the top of their rotation. They aren’t doing much for his confidence while he asserts himself.

Scott Kazmir pitched six, strong innings, allowing just two hits and no earned runs, but the Indians lacked fundamentals and defense this evening, en route to a 3-2 loss in Minnesota. The Indians struck out 11 times, offensively, and only mustered four hits in their lack of support for Kazmir and the bullpen.

Kazmir has not won a game on the road all season, but this is the second time in less than a month the Tribe hasn’t given him the necessary support to win a game he had pitched them into postion for a victory. He’s just 2-0 in his last six starts with a 1.95 ERA. Defense, timely hitting and bullpen all let the comeback left-hander down this evening.

The Indians tallied the only runs they would need in the top of the third inning. Lonnie Chisenhall doubled to center field to start the inning. After Yan Gomes struck out, Drew Stubbs was hit by a pitch. With two on and two out, Michael Bourn doubled to left centerfield, plating both runners and giving the Tribe a 2-0 lead.

Clete Thomas squeaked the Twins only hit in the first five innings when he hit a one bouncer to Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera played it lazily to the side and it glanced off his glove, but was ruled a hit. Minnesota did not register another hit until the sixth inning.

After Cleveland stranded two runners in the top half of the inning, the Tribe manufactured two runs for the Twins, instead. With two gone, Pedro Florimon walked. Chisenhall booted a ball that allowed Brian Dozier to reach safely and take second base on a questionable throw by Asdrubal Cabrera. Florimon advanced to third so that when Trevor Plouffe singled to right, both runners could come racing home to tie the game at two runs apiece. Kazmir walked Joe Mauer, but got Justin Morneau to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.

The rocky sixth inning—created mostly by his teammates—ended Kazmir’s evening. He allowed just two hits and two runs, neither were earned, while walking three and striking out three. Tonight’s start was reminiscent of Kazmir’s start in Baltimore, where he allowed just one hit but took a no decision.

Cody Allen pitched the seventh inning and danced around a leadoff base hit to Ryan Doumit. Allen uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Doumit to second before striking out Chris Colabello, getting Aaron Hicks to ground out and punching out Thomas to end the threat.

Joe Smith worked the eighth inning and his dancing shoes were a little rustier than Allen’s. Florimon singled to center field to start the inning. Again, Dozier reached on an error when Chisenhall’s throw to first bounced out of Nick Swisher’s glove. With two on an two out, it appeared the Indians dodged another bullet when Plouffe grounded into a double play, but Joe Mauer singled to center to bring home Florimon and give the Twins a 3-2 lead.

With the lead in hand, Glen Perkins worked a three-up, three-down ninth inning for his 22nd save of the season. It wasn’t so much a save as a reception of the Tribe’s gift. Corey Fien (2-2) earns the win in relief for the Twins with a scoreless eighth inning. Joe Smith (4-1) takes the loss after allowing three of Minnesota’s six hits for the game.

While the Indians should have won the game, their offense didn’t muster much to support their poor defense. Cleveland only earned four hits and didn’t have a hit after Michael Brantley’s single in the top of the sixth inning.

The Tribe doesn’t lose a game in the standings, although they don’t gain one, because Detroit was shutout 1-0 in Kansas City. The Tribe remains one and a half games in back of the Tigers.

Tomorrow night the Indians will try to even the series when Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.88) takes the mound against the Twins’ Kevin Correia (6-6, 4.23) at 7:10 ET from Target Field.

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

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