Justin Masterson completely fell apart and a couple big blown calls gave the Twins an even bigger boost Saturday night as Minnesota throttled the Tribe, 12-5. The loss drops the Indians to below .500 (50-51) and a full 5.5 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central.
It looked at first as though the Indians were in for a great game. Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a single off Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno, then stole second and scored after Jason Kipnis‘ and Carlos Santana‘s groundouts. Meanwhile, Masterson took a perfect game into the fourth inning.
Then the trouble started. Joe Mauer drew a two-out walk to end the perfecto, and after taking what sure looked like strike three Josh Willingham clobbered the ball into the left field stands. Two more tainted runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifh. Brian Dozier was ruled safe on a Jack Hannahan throwing error when replays clearly showed he was out; he scored on Alexi Casilla‘s two-run triple, and Casilla came home himself after what would have been the third out to make it a 5-1 game.
The Twins blew the game open in the sixth. Casilla and Denard Span delivered with back-to-back two-run doubles to knock Masterson out of the game, and Ben Revere capped the rally with an RBI single to make it 10-1. Danny Valencia ripped an RBI double off Esmil Rogers in the seventh and Mauer knocked a run-scoring base hit off Tony Sipp in the eighth to give Minnesota a pair of completely unnecessary insurance runs.
Meanwhile, the Indians combined for four runs in the eighth and ninth innings—including a Carlos Santana home run and a Jason Kipnis bases-loaded walk—but the game was already way out of reach and Cleveland fell 12-5.
The Good: Carlos Santana’s power surge continued with his two-run blast in the eighth inning, and Justin Masterson looked great until his mistake pitch to Josh Willingham in the fourth.
The Bad: In the words of the immortal Ron Burgundy: “Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!” Justin Masterson was untouchable for the first three-plus innings he threw, but 11 of the last 17 batters he faced reached base. Hopefully this was just an anomaly (it’s not like him to see such a drastic decline in the middle innings), but starting an outing with three perfect innings is little solace when you give up 10 runs.
Also, the Indians managed only one run on two hits in seven innings against a 29-year-old with only 10 career MLB outings who gave up five walks. When is this lineup going to wake up?
The “Huh?”: Between the would-be strike three to Josh Willingham and the mistaken “safe” call on Brian Dozier, the Twins scored four runs Friday night that shouldn’t have actually counted. It might not have ended up mattering, but it was 5-1 after five (and thus rightly 1-1) and in most games four runs is enough to change the winner. So why don’t we have instant replay yet?
Interesting Tidbit: The Indians have given up 23 runs in their last two games, but surprisingly that’s not a season worst—they gave up 26 runs against the White Sox on May 26 and 27.