Indians lose 1-0 in tightly contested pitcher's duel

It was a night to forget for the Tribe offense as they struggled to pick up Josh Tomlin's masterful performance and solve Ervin Santana and the Twins' pitching staff.

CLEVELAND – Ervin Santana dominated the Indians on July 27, 2011 with the first and only no-hitter of his 11 years of major league service time.

Six years later, his ability to seamlessly maneuver past the Tribe offense came to fruition once again.

Between a steady mix of fastballs, changeups and sliders, Santana was able to throw seven innings of two-hit ball to help the Twins beat Cleveland, 1-0, on Friday night at Progressive Field.

Tomlin recovers from early homer

The home run ball came back to bite Tomlin for the fourth time this season courtesy of Miguel Sano’s opposite-field blast to provide the Twins an early 1-0 advantage.

“He was tremendous,” said manager Terry Francona. “He’s been pitching good. I know his numbers are not going to be the prettiest for a while but he pitches like that – he changed speeds, he kept them off-balance, he took the sting out. Sano is turning into a really good, dangerous hitter.”

Following the home run, Tomlin set down seven consecutive batters.

“They have to respect the fastball-in because he can get it in there and he can throw it for a strike,” Francona said. “And then off of that comes the cutter or the curveball and it becomes so effective. Even when he was missing tonight, he’s following the glove and maybe just off the plate.”

A consistent use of the curveball and crisp command helped Tomlin evade any further damage throughout the latter half of his appearance as he rolled to a final line of 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 7 K (105 pitches, 69 strikes, 65.7%, eight groundouts, three flyouts).

“I think it’s the execution of pitches,” said Tomlin of his recent success. “These last couple starts I’ve been able to kind of hone that in a little bit and able to locate better. That’s all it pretty much came down to for me.”

Unable to capitalize

Santana walked five batters in a start where eight men were left stranded, four of which were in scoring position. Most notably, the Tribe left the bases-loaded in the fifth after Yan Gomes singled and Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley both walked. Edwin Encarnacion (see above) ended the attempted rally and fired his bat in frustration after scorching a line drive right to Byron Buxton in center field.

“[Encarnacion] hit it right on the nose,” Francona said. “You got to give yourself more than one chance a night.”

After the sixth inning, the home nine went 1-for-10 with Brantley accounting for two of the club’s three base knocks, his tenth multi-hit performance of the campaign.

“[Ervin Santana’s] in a really good place,” said Francona. “He’s throwing the ball where he wants to, he has some life, he has some cut. Really got in on our left-handers and made them think in with (the) cutter and fastball.”

Up next

The series continues with a late afternoon affair on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.

RHP Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the year after tossing 5.2 shutout innings last Sunday in Kansas City.

RHP Jose Berrios (AAA: 3-0, 1.13) is scheduled for his 2017 debut against the same team he opposed in his first career outing on April 27, 2016.

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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