The Indians opened the season with another sub .500 April that came to an end last night in a lopsided loss to the Minnesota Twins, putting the Tribe at 9-13 for the month. A lack of timely hitting, poor pitching, and sub standard defense typically lead to losses against one of the best teams in the league and that’s how it played out last night. The Twins, who finished a great first month at 15-8, jumped on Fausto Carmona who clearly did not have his best stuff working on what was the warmest night at Progressive Field this season. Justin Morneau hit a 435 foot two-run bomb into the trees in centerfield to open the scoring in the first.
The Twins would add 4 more in the second in an inning where the damage could have been avoided with better defense backing up Fausto. Luis Valbuena, turning a double play, made a low throw that Matt LaPorta was unable to scoop to end the inning. The Twins scored on what should have been a routine DP. Fausto gave up another single which extended the lead to 5-0 before getting out of the inning. With the floundering Tribe offense, that is all Minnesota would need.
Twins starter Kevin Slowey, who dominated the Indians last week, went 5 innings, struck out 6, and gave up 3 runs to get his 2nd win against the Tribe in as many weeks. The Indians offense could not get to the Twins bullpen which combined for 4 scoreless innings. While the Indians worked the count and made Slowey work a little harder than last week, they were still unable to get timely hitting and do any major damage to counter the weak start from Fausto. Grady Sizemore, Austin Kearns, and Travis Hafner each drove in a run in the 5th inning. Sizemore had 2 hits to get his batting average above .200 but he also had 3 Ks. Jhonny Peralta, who was horrible in April, went 3 for 4 which amazingly included a hard hit triple high off the wall in center, but failed to get a hit in the 5th and keep the rally going.
Luis Valbuena had another rough night. He struck out with men on 1st and 3rd to kill a potential 2nd inning rally. He later grounded into a double play when the Tribe put their first two men of the 8th inning on base. Valbuena may be the first projected everyday starter to be demoted to AAA Columbus, especially with Jason Donald raking down there (more on him later from Jacob).
The Indians bullpen looked shaky again as the Twins scored 3 more times of Raffy Perez and Jensen Lewis. Perez was terrible and balls started roping out of the infield almost instantaneously after he took the mound. He started the inning with a leadoff walk which was quickly followed by a single and a Joe Mauer double that he took the other way down the left field line. He gave up two runs, the second aided by an Austin Kearns bobble which allowed Orlando Hudson to score from first. Lewis finished the all around weak effort from the Tribe pitching staff by giving up a run in the 9th after walking two, giving up a hit, and an error by Asdrubal Cabrera.
As I said off the top, when you get poor pitching from your starter and bullpen, sub standard defense, and a lack of timely hitting from an offense that has been anemic, you’re not beating the best team in your division. It was an uneventful thrashing that seemed out of reach by the middle of the 2nd inning. The Tribe will hopefully pick it up as the calendar turns to May with 8 games remaining on an important homestand. Justin Masterson pitches tonight for the Tribe while spot starter Jeff Manship makes his first start of the season for the Twins.