The Indians dug themselves a 4-0 hole before responding with 7 unanswered runs en route to a 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins in a sloppy affair that featured poor starting pitching, defensive miscues, poor offensive execution, , and questionable managerial moves. With the victory the Indians remain in fourth place in the AL Central and improve their record to 59-79 while the Twins remain in the cellar and see their record drop to 56-82.
Jeanmar Gomez appeared confident and aggressive in the 1st inning as he retired the Twins in order on 12 pitches (including 2 strikeouts). Unfortunately neither the aggressiveness or confidence came out of the dugout with him over his final two innings. His night came to an end after 3 innings of work allowing 4R/ER on 3 hits, striking out 3, walking 3 (one intentional), while throwing 59 pitches and only 31 for strikes.
David Huff was summoned from the bullpen to replace Gomez to begin the 4th inning and he seemingly had acquired all of the confidence and aggressiveness that Gomez had shown in the first inning. In earning the victory he faced 10 Twins hitters and retired them all including 4 strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work. After retiring the first batter in the bottom of the 7th and after only 33 pitches Huff was inexplicably removed for Joe Smith who retired the final two hitters in the 7th. Vinnie Pestano followed Joe Smith to the mound and gave up 1R/ER on 2 hits in the 8th inning and Chris Perez gave up 1R/ER on 1 hit in earning his 35th save on the year.
Liam Hendriks was making his 12th start this year and the 16th in his career and was winless in his previous 15 starts compiling an 0-9 record with a 6.13 ERA. On Friday evening he was spotted to a 4 run lead but was unable to hold the lead through the fifth inning. In his 5 innings of work he allowed 4R/ER on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out only 2.
Tyler Robertson replaced Hendriks and took the loss after surrendering 2R/ER without giving up a hit but issuing 2 walks in his 1+ inning of work. Alex Burnett replace Robertson and gave up 1R/ER on 3 hits and a walk in .1 innings of work. He was followed to the mound by Kyle Waldrop who worked 1.2 innings of scoreless ball and Glen Perkins who worked a scoreless inning. Overall the Twins pitching staff allowed 12 hits, walked 8 Indian hitters, and only struck out 3.
The Twins jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning in large part to a nibbling Jeanmar Gomez. After a stress free 12 pitch first inning which included two strikeouts Gomez lost command of the strike zone and issued back to back walks to Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau. Ryan Doumit followed with a grounder to Jason Kipnis who flipped to Asdrubal Cabrera to retire Morneau at 2nd but Doumit beat the return throw to first as Willingham advanced to third. The Twins first run came on a Chris Parmelee sacrifice fly to left scoring Josh Willingham.
The Twins extended their lead to 4-0 with a 3-run outburst in the third inning. Pedro Florimon led off with a single and Ben Revere followed with a perfectly executed hit and run to put runners on first and second with nobody out. The Twins turned to small ball in an attempt to pressure the Indians and Eduardo Escobar executed a perfect sacrifice to bring up Joe Mauer with runners at 2nd and 3rd and 1-out. The Indians elected to walk Mauer to face Josh Willingham with the bases loaded and he made them pay for that decision with a double to right field that drove in Florimon and Revere to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Joe Mauer came in to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Justin Morneau to give the Twins a 4-0 lead.
The Tribe came right back and cut the Twins lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth inning. With 1-out Michael Brantley singled and came around to score on Russ Canzler‘s first career major league homer.
The Indians tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth inning. Jack Hannahanhit a leadoff double off the base of the right field wall and Shin Shoo-Choo followed with a check swing hopper that somehow found its way through the center of the diamond to score Hannahan. The luck continued to favor the Indians as Jason Kipnis sent a check swing blooper to the opposite field that landed fair and sent Choo to 3rd as Kipnis pulled into second with a double. With the infield playing back Asdrubal Cabrera swung at the first pitch and popped out to second base for the first out. Carlos Santana followed and swung away at a 3-0 pitch and sent a ground ball to 1b Justin Morneau who threw home to catch Choo half way down the line. Choo did his job and stayed in the rundown long enough to allow Kipnis to advance to 3rd and Santana hustled his way to 2nd. Michael Brantley was intentionally walked to bring Russ Canzler to the plate and he sent a slow bleeder down the 3rd base line that hugged the line and stayed fair for an RBI single to tie the game at 4-4.
The Tribe took a 7-4 lead in the 7th inning. Jason Kipnis walked to lead off the inning and seemed to be picked off but the throw to Pedro Florimon was dropped and Kipnis was safe at second. Asdrubal Cabrera walked but was erased on a fielders choice off the bat of Carlos Santana which put runners at the corners for Michael Brantley who delivered an RBI single to score Kipnis to give the Tribe a 5-4 lead. Russ Canzler followed with his second infield single to load the bases for Casey Kotchman who hit a ball off the pitchers glove to score Santana for the Tribe’s 6th run and Cord Phelps came in to pinch hit for Vinny Rottino and drew a bases loaded walk to score Brantley putting the Tribe up 7-4.
The Twins came back to cut the lead to 7-5 off Vinnie Pestano in the bottom of the eighth inning. Joe Mauer led off the inning with a bloop single to center and came around to score on a RBI double off the bat off Josh Willingham.
The Twins crawled within a run in the ninth inning on a soft fly ball off the bat of Trevor Plouffe that Shin Soo-Choo allowed to drop in front of him. Plouffe was replaced by pinch runner Alexi Casilla and advanced to third on a ground out by Pedro Florimon and scored on a ground out by Ben Revere. Chris Perez struck out pinch hitter Matt Carson to end the game.
The Good: After toiling in the minor leagues for parts of 9 seasons and amassing 3,356 plate appearances for three different organizations, Russ Canzler finally hit his first major league homer. A 2-run shot off Liam Hendriks in the top of the 4th inning. Congratulations Mr. Canzler.
The Good Part II: David Huff came in and retired all 10 batters he faced including striking out 4 Twins.
The Bad: Jeanmar Gomez delivered a poor performance allowing 4R/4ER in 3 innings of work while nibbling around the strike zone throwing only 31 strikes in his 59 pitches.
The “Huh?”: With runners at 2nd and 3rd and 1-out in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Manny Acta decided to intentionally walk Joe Mauer to get to Josh Willingham. On the surface this isn’t a horrible move if made after the 6th inning but why not have Gomez attempt to pitch around Mauer rather than bringing Willingham to the plate with the pressure not to make a mistake on the pitcher?
The “Huh?”, Part II: David Huff came in relief of Jeanmar Gomez and retired all 10 batters he faced which included 4 strikeouts. Meanwhile the Indians jumped out to a 7-4 lead into the 7th inning. With 1-out and nobody on base Manny Acta went to the mound to replace Huff and brought in Joe Smith?