Well, the good news is, the Indians are likely to be further ahead of second place on Sunday night than they were after Thursday.
When the Royals beat the Tribe in their last at-bat the other night, the win brought Kansas City within a game of first place. But at this writing the Royals are six runs down to the Rangers, and in danger of dropping their third straight in Texas, which would leave Cleveland a game and-a-half in front of Kansas City — and Detroit, which completed a sweep of the White Sox this afternoon.
The bad news?
The Indians lost their third straight this afternoon in a maddening game of inches, when the Twins scored twice in the seventh inning — aided by a huge error — and held on to beat the Tribe 4-3, when Asdrubal Cabrera — swinging at the first pitch with Grady Sizemore on second after doubling — flied out to left against new Minnesota closer Matt Capps to finish a 2-4 road trip for The God Guys.
And for more bad news: today’s starter, Carlos Carrasco, had to leave after three innings wtih what is being called “tightness” in his pitching elbow.
Carrasco labored through three innings, giving up two runs in the third when Justin Morneau doubled, scoring Denard Span and Jason Kubel.
The Indians came right back in the fourth, but it was in the fourth that that “game of inches” thing cost the Tribe a run.
After Shin-Soo Choo grounded out to start the fourth, Carlos Santana walked off of Twins’ starter Carl Pavano, and went to second on a single by Travis Hafner. Orlando Cabrera then delivered an RBI double to shallow left, scoring Santana and putting two runners in scoring position with the Indians down 2-1.
Michael Brantley then homered to deep right and Cleveland was suddenly up 4-2.
Or were they?
After a review by the umpires, the homer was overturned and Brantley was instead given a double, which did give the Indians a 3-2 lead. And after Lou Marson drew a walk, putting runners at first and second, there was still a chance for a big inning.
But Jack Hannahan and Sizemore were retired, and the four-run inning that became a three-run frame would end up being the difference in the game.
Jeanmar Gomez relieved Carrasco after the third and did a fine job, holding Minnesota off the board into the seventh.
However, in the seventh, Alexi Casilla led off with a single, and — after Rafael Perez came on to relieve Gomez — Orlando Cabrera booted a ball at second, putting two on with nobody out. Jason Repko sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Jason Kubel came through with what turned out to be the game-winning hit, a double to right that scored Casilla and Span, who had reached on the error.
In the Indians’ ninth, after Shelley Duncan had grounded out leading off as a pinch-hitter, Span made a fine catch in center to rob Hannahan of a hit. The play became even bigger when Sizemore followed with his double.
Frustrating as the ninth was, the eighth was no picnic for Tribe fans, especially since the inning unfolded precisely the way the three-run fourth had, through the first three batters.
Choo was again retired for the first out against Glen Perkins, who had come on to replace Pavano to begin the inning, and Santana drew a walk — again, Hafner then came through again with a shallow single, sending Santana to second.
Deja vu for the fourth? Nope.
Jim Hoey came on for the Twins and struck out Orlando Cabrera, and Jose Mijares was called on and retired Brantley on a grounder to end the threat.
So close yet so far.
Shin-Soo Choo had not one, but two, assists from the outfield in the third inning, cutting down Casilla at home for the second out of the frame, and Morneau at the plate to end the inning.
Pavano gets the win for Minnesota to improve to 2-2 on the season, with Matt Capps getting save number four. In his seven innings of work, Pavano allowed six hits and three runs, dropping his ERA to 5.12 on the season.
Rafael Perez took the loss for the Indians, giving up an unearned run in the seventh. Perez now has the odd distinction of having lost a game — and still having an ERA of 0.00.
When updated news of Carlos Carrasco’s condition is available, we will have it for you.
The Indians are now off tomorrow, and will entertain the Royals at Progressive Field on Tuesday.
Today’s loss drops Cleveland to 13-8 on the season. But, but…there is the “first-place thing” to hold onto.
Happy Easter, Tribe fans.