Trevor Plouffe’s two-run single in the sixth inning and Joe Mauer’s RBI single in the eighth proved to be the difference as the Indians fell to the Minnesota Twins 3-2 in front of 36,280 fans at Target Field.
All three of the Twins’ runs came unearned, making this loss (against a 40-53 ballclub) very tough to swallow. To put it lightly, the defensive effort by the Indians was disgusting on Friday night.
With two outs in the sixth inning, a runner on first and a 2-0 lead, Scott Kazmir delivered his 93rd pitch to leadoff hitter Brian Dozier. Dozier tapped a grounder to Lonnie Chisenhall, who moved to his left and allowed the ball to skip off his glove, past Asdrubal Cabrera, and into short left field. Cabrera, who had already committed a fielding miscue in the third (which should have been called an error), proceeded to whip the ball blindly to third base in an attempt to retire Pedro Florimon, who was advancing to third. Cabrera had absolutely no chance at retiring the speedy Florimon, and the bone-headed throw allowed Dozier, the tying run, to advance into scoring position.
Trevor Plouffe proceeded to single into right field, tying the game at two. This prevented Scott Kazmir (5-4, 4.30 ERA) from earning a decision, despite his beautiful outing. Kazmir, who threw 106 pitches (65 strikes), pounded the strike zone all night and effectively used both sides of the plate. Scott Kazmir allowed two hits, but neither should have been counted against him. The first was botched at shortstop by Asdrubal Cabrera, and was mistakenly called a single. The second came after a Lonnie Chisenhall error. With competent fielding Kazmir, would have had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning at 93 pitches. Overall, Scott Kazmir pitched six innings while walking three and striking out three.
Moving to the eighth inning, Joe Smith came on to face the nine hitter Pedro Florimon and allowed a deep single to left center field. The next hitter, Brian Dozier, chopped a grounder to Lonnie Chisenhall, whose only play was at first. Chisenhall tosses the routine grounder to first…and first baseman Nick Swisher dropped the ball. Just completely dropped it from his glove. The throw was completely online, but Swisher must have been thinking about his next commercial spot instead of concentrating on the task. This is not the first time Swisher has lost concentration in the past week.
That was the fourth fielding miscue the Tribe had made up to that point, and at that point I knew the Indians were not going to win this game. After a 4-6-3 double play advanced Florimon to third , Joe Mauer came up to bat, and as we’ve seen so many times in the past, hit a clutch RBI single to bring the game to 3-2.
All-Star Glen Perkins pitched a perfect ninth inning and collected his 22th save of the season. Perkins was assisted by one of the best defensive plays I have seen this season, via shortstop Pedro Florimon.
Mike Pelfrey (4-7, 5.40 ERA) pitched 5.2 innings and was effective, but the Indians worked the count on him (113 pitches). The only Indians runs came on a Michael Bourn (2-4 with two RBI) two-run double in the third inning, which plated Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs. Otherwise, the Indians were quiet at the plate, leaving five runners on base and going 1-5 with RISP.
In total, the Twins’ pitching staff recorded 11 strikeouts. At the beginning of the season, you had to expect nights like these to happen offensively. However, if the Indians could have gotten a replacement level performance from their defense, they would have won. These are just games the Indians cannot lose if they truly want to contend.
In more player-related news, Lonnie Chisenhall went 1-3 with a double and a run scored. Since being recalled June 18, Chizzy is hitting .282 with a .520 slugging percentage. However, Chisenhall is still struggling against lefties (3-34 on the season).
The Indians’ 2-4 hitters (Cabrera, Kipnis, Swisher) went 0-11. Cabrera had an especially tough day, getting two hits robbed from him and striking out with two on and two out in the fifth. Swisher also struck out three times.
Yan Gomes went 0-3 with two strikeouts and has been struggling with fastballs lately. He has also struggled overall as of late, batting just .194 since June 1.
The Indians and Twins will play the second game of their three game series at 7:10 pm EST. Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.88 ERA) will face Kevin Correia (6-6, 4.23 ERA), who in my mind is a potential trade candidate for the Indians’ rotation.
W – Casey Fien (2-2)
L – Joe Smith (4-1)
S – Glen Perkins (22)
A – 36,280