Today’s game, as was last night’s, was a game that the Indians could have won. Perhaps even should have won.
But a combination of lack of hitting late with men in scoring position and a bad sequence in the outfield to start the bottom of the eighth led Minnesota to a 7-5 win and a split of the four-game series.
Making a microcosm of the game and condensing it into three innings will pretty much tell the story of this one.
In the Indians’ seventh, in a 4-4 tie, the first two batters singled to get the Tribe off and running toward taking the lead.
Right? Not so fast.
Austin Kearns did his job, laying down a sacrifice bunt to put Orlando Cabrera at third and Lonnie Chisenhall at second.
But Luis Valbuena popped out and Ezequiel Carrera grounded out and the threat was over.
Okay, maybe in the eighth, when Asdrubal Cabrera doubled leading off, maybe then the Indians could score.
Travis Hafner hit a liner to right, but Cabrera could not advance on the play. Then Carlos Santana grounded out, sending Cabrera to third. And Matt LaPorta flied out to the warning track.
Still it was 4-4 going to the Twins’ eighth.
Alexi Casilla hit a fly ball to left center, splitting Carrera and Valbuena. Nobody really took charge of the very catchable ball, and it bounced into the seats for a leadoff (and tainted) double.
Then Joe Mauer hit a fly ball to left, and Valbuena pulled up a couple of steps short as the ball dropped, sending Casilla to third.
Easily, with an experienced left fielder, there could have been two outs and nobody on.
Tony Sipp, to his credit, struck out Michael Cuddyer, but Jim Thome walked, loading the bases, and Vinnie Pestano came on.
Tuesday’s hero, Danny Valencia, hit a liner toward right that deflected off of Orlando Cabrera’s glove for a go-ahead base hit, and then, after Delmon Young struck out, Tsuyoshi Nishioka drove in a pair with a single, and the game was as good as over.
Chisenhall did hit his second career homer in the ninth to account for the final 7-5 margin with a blast into the second deck, but Joe Nathan retired the last two Indians, and the road trip was over.
Sipp takes the hard-luck loss to drop to 4-2, while Matt Capps got the win to move to 3-5, with Nathan getting his sixth save.
Josh Tomlin started for the Tribe and went six innings, allowing four runs, while Joe Smith pitched a scoreless seventh.
Carrera, A. Cabrera and Chisenhall all collected two hits, but the Indians went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, while the Twins (with a lot of defensive help from Cleveland) went 5-for-9.
The Tribe will wait and see how Detroit does tonight. If the Tigers win, the Indians drop into second, while if Oakland triumphs, Cleveland will share first place heading into their day-off tomorrow