CLEVELAND – A seven-run outburst this past Wednesday in Toronto seemed to be the turning point for an offense thirsting for any sort of production.
Three days later, the Indians find themselves back to the drawing board after scoring two runs in the first pair of games to start their homestand.
The Twins clinched a series win with a 4-1 victory on Saturday late afternoon from Progressive Field.
Mike Clevinger could not evade the crooked number behind another dismal showing from a team that has mustered three or fewer runs in nine of their last 11 contests.
Breaking the scoring barrier
After 17 innings of scoreless offense, the Tribe finally broke through for a run on Carlos Santana’s triple to snap an 0-for-10 skid and Jose Berrios’ wild pitch in the third inning.
The brief ray of hope dimmed rather quickly.
Once the Indians got on the scoreboard, they immediately reverted to their woes at the plate by going 1-for-20 with only Lindor (walk), Lonnie Chisenhall (hit by pitch) and Michael Brantley (single) reaching base for the remainder of the game.
“We’re certainly not doing what we want to do,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’re getting in that mode where everybody is trying to do more. We need baserunners and go first to third. When guys start popping up, they’re trying to do more.”
Berrios induced six groundouts and four flyouts en route to a final line of 7.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
“We got to keep the head up, keep working hard and keep trying to do the best we can do,” said Edwin Encarnacion after going 0-for-4. “[Berrios had] good command. He got a good two-seamer working today. He pitched good.”
Clevinger loses control
Similar to his last start, Clevinger struggled to stay in the strike zone and issued five walks, threw two wild pitches and committed one throwing error to give the Twins a three-run fourth. Jorge Polanco laced an RBI single to left field to cap off the rally and pave way to a 3-1 lead.
“Even the inning before, I wasn’t finding the lower half of the zone the way I felt like I had been,” Clevinger said. “Then I think I tried to compensate for that and I got real placey with everything. The nit-picking kind of bit me in the butt.”
Minnesota batted .214 (3-for-14) vs. Clevinger, but two of their three runs reached base on free passes.
“I’m doing a good job keeping it down and limiting hard contact,” said Clevinger in regards to allowing three hits. “Once I get out of my aggressive mode, that’s when I kind of dug my own grave today.”
Max Kepler tacked on the road nine’s fourth and final run on his eighth career blast against Cleveland, a solo shot in the sixth off Dan Otero.
Zach McAllister and Nick Goody combined for three shutout frames out of the bullpen while Yan Gomes gunned down Brian Dozier on two different occasions to keep the Twins offense at bay.
A squirrel made his/her way onto the field in the home half of the sixth to delay the ballgame for four minutes, 30 seconds. Berrios threw his hands up at the squirrel in a humorous break from the action.
“I thought it was kind of funny,” Lindor said. “Family atmosphere, everybody enjoyed it. We enjoyed it. Too bad we weren’t winning.”
The finale game of the series is slated for a 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Progressive Field.
RHP Trevor Bauer (2-4, 7.36) will make his seventh start in hopes to get back on track after allowing four or more runs in all but one of his outings this season.
LHP Hector Santiago (4-1, 2.76) is looking for his fourth consecutive win despite failing to earn a victory against the Indians since October 1, 2012.