A very painful homestand for the Indians ended in an especially painful way as Ben Revere singled to left with two outs in the tenth and Drew Butera scored when the throw to the plate from Michael Brantley bouced high off of Lou Marson — who seemed as if he would have had time for the putout had he fielded it cleanly — as the Minnesota Twins sent Cleveland into their off-day with a 3-2 victory.
The win gives Minnesota six wins in seven games, while the Tribe ends a 1-6 stand at Progressive Field and is rewarded by having to go to the Bronx on Friday to take on the Yankees in the first of four.
I say this was “especially painful” because an unexpected hero surfaced in the bottom of the ninth for the Indians, or this one wouldn’t have made it to extra frames at all.
With two outs and nobody aboard in the ninth, Jack Hannahan homered to right-center off of Matt Capps to tie the game. It was Hannahan’s fifth long ball of the year, but it came at so unexpected a time…
…only to have Tribe fans’ hopes dashed in the tenth.
But Cleveland did make it interesting in the bottom of the tenth when Carlos Santana doubled with two outs. Unfortunately, Shin-Soo Choo was retired on a grounder to pitcher Phil Dumatrait to end the game and to sum up this dreadful homestand perfectly.
Dumatrait gets his first save in the big leagues— ever. And Capps get the win to move to 2-3 after blowing the save in the ninth.
Justin Masterson pitched well enough to win, but as has so often been the case for him since April, the bats just did not give him any real help, and Masterson (5-4, 3.18 ERA) was fortunate not to be tagged with the loss after giving up only two runs on nine hits with no walks and three Ks in eight innings.
Tony Sipp pitched a scoreless ninth, and Chris Perez (2-2, 2.70 ERA) came on in the tenth and was charged with the loss. The run against Perez was earned, but had Marson caught that one-hop throw from Brantley (which was actually right about on the money but for which Brantley was charged with the error), Chris would have escaped and the game might still be going.
Minnesota scored first, in the third inning, when Revere’s single plated Luke Hughes. The Twins made it 2-0 in the top of the sixth when Justin Morneau doubled, scoring Revere.
The Tribe got one back in the bottom half of the sixth when Grady Sizemore belted his seventh homer of the year to the opposite field off of Carl Pavano, (who also pitched well enough to win, allowing only the one run in seven innings). That was all the scoring until Hannahan’s blast in the ninth.
Cord Phelps made his major league debut this afternoon, getting the start at second base. Phelps went 0-for-4 with one strikeout, but did participate in one double play on defense.
The Indians left nine men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. There is a chronic lack of clutch hitting and it seems to have infected the entire team. Yes, solo homers are instant runs, but Sizemore — just as an example, mind you — left two men stranded in his at-bat prior to his solo shot.
Now the Tribe gets an off-day. Maybe that will shake some of this slump off. Remember that Cleveland came into this homestand having won the last two in Toronto, including a 13-run outburst.
We can only hope that come Friday we will see a different offensive team on the road. Of course, by then, it may be necessary to win to stay in first place. The Detroit Tigers, as of this moment, are only one game back of the Indians in the AL Central, pending the Tigers’ game in Texas tonight, so Detroit could creep to within a half-game later, and with a game at home tomorrow against Seattle, Detroit could very well find themselves only percentage points behind the Tribe on Friday morning.