It was deja vu all over again for the Indians in Minneapolis on Tuesday night as they lost to the Twins in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 9th for the second consecutive day. Tito Francona made the unusual move of going for his closer in the last half of the 9th of a tie game on the road and it did not pay off as the Twins made quick work of Cody Allen with four base runners and the win.
Perhaps of more concern, Cody Anderson’s fourth start was not an improvement on his first three and the front office must be taking a long look at their options in AAA Columbus right now as Anderson has endured a rough April after such a promising spring. This was the third consecutive game that Anderson has allowed five earned runs, and his ERA is an ugly 7.65, allowing 30 hits in 20 innings along with 6 long balls.
Jason Kipnis kick-started the Tribe offense with a 1st inning home run, his second of the year, but Anderson gave it right back in the bottom of the 1st with a leadoff double to Danny Santana and a single to Brian Dozier to score the run. The Twins, in fact, scored in five of the six innings pitched by Anderson, capped off by a solo shot by Eddie Rosario in the bottom of the 6th which immediately negated the Tribe’s two run rally in the top of the 6th that had tied the score at 4.
Minnesota’s Ricky Nolasco pitched into the eighth before entrusting a one run lead to his bullpen but Mike Napoli hit an absolute bomb into the second deck off of Kevin Jepson to tie the game in the 9th inning. It was Napoli’s third home run off of a right handed pitcher in 42 plate appearances this season, which is an encouraging improvement on his 2015 production against right handers (6 home runs in 290 plate appearances).
Unfortunately, Francona’s aggressive call to bring in his relief ace, Cody Allen, didn’t work out as Allen allowed a single to Santana, who was eliminated trying to steal single, and then a double to Dozier, an intentional walk to Joe Mauer, and then the walk off single to young slugger Miguel Sano that scored Dozier for the final score of 6-5 and sent the Indians to their second straight defeat after winning three straight in Detroit over the weekend.
The Indians send Josh Tomlin to the hill on Wednesday at 8:10pm to try to avoid a sweep. Tomlin will face baseball’s #16 overall prospect Jose Berrios as he makes his major league debut with the Twins.
Fifth Starter Speculation
The Tribe’s 40 man roster is currently full, but the candidates most likely to be called up from AAA if Anderson is sent down are already on the 40 man, so no one would need to be released to facilitate a move. Mike Clevinger, T.J. House and Ryan Merritt, the top three starters in Columbus, are all on the 40 man roster.
Reliever Ross Detwiler could also be in the mix as he’s made 76 starts in his career, although the last time he was a productive full time starting pitcher was in 2013 when he posted a 4.04 ERA but a 1.486 WHIP in 13 starts with Washington.
With an off day on Thursday, a three game trip to Philadelphia (where they’ll start Kluber, Bauer and Salazar), and then another off day on Monday, a fifth starter won’t be necessary on the next turn through the rotation, giving the Indians some options. They could allow Anderson to work out of the pen or bring up another reliever for the weekend series and get Anderson time to right the ship in AAA.