December 8, 2023

Last Place Twins Bring Tribe Down to Earth

Series Result: Indians lose series 1-2 to Twins

Game Results
Game 1: Minnesota 4 Cleveland 3
Game 2: Cleveland 8 Minnesota 2
Game 3: Minnesota 3 Cleveland 1, pub-2319592412860037, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

Indians MVP
Carlos Santana
In the series, Santana went 6-for-13 with 2 doubles, 1 home run, and 2 RBI’s. It was Santana in game 2 of the series who led the Tribe offensively, needing only a triple to complete the cycle. Santana raised his batting average from .204 to .215 in the series.

Indians LVP
Jason Kipnis
Fresh off winning AL player of the week, Kipnis had a poor showing in Minnesota. In the series, Kipnis went 2-fot-13 and left 7 men on base. Whatever it was, Kipnis could not come through in the clutch in this series, he also could not get on-base enough something he is normally very good at.

Game 1: Hammer nails Tribe in 8th
The Tribe came to Minnesota on a hot streak, and even though they dropped their last game to the Tigers, the Tribe seemed like they would be able to feast on the last place Twins. The Twins had other ideas; the past few years, as bad as the Twins have played, the have always given the Tribe fits. The Tribe ran out their least threatening lineup all year (given that Michael Brantley was given the day off) to face Twins pitcher Kris Johnson (making only his third start of the season). The game started with Johnson striking out Kipnis, Cabrera, and Gomes to end the 1st inning. In the bottom of the first, we would get to see the Mike Aviles center field experiment, it turned out to be an immediate success as Aviles made a nice running, over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Twins got to T.J. House. The inning started with back-to-back singles, then All Star (hard to believe) Kurt Suzuki doubled home both runners to give the Twins the early 2-0 lead. The inning could have been a lot worse, but Chris Colabello’s apparent 2-run home run was reserved on video replay. T.J. House never got into a groove in this game going 5 innings, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 3, and striking out 2. I do believe that once Masterson returns that House will be the odd man out, giving the Tribe a rotation of Kluber, Bauer, Masterson, Tomlin, and Salazar.

In the top of the 3rd, the Tribe was able to cut the lead in half at 2-1, when Chris Dickerson singled in Mike Aviles (Dickerson has 6 RBI’s in his 12 games with the Tribe). In classic Indians fashion, the Tribe gave that run right back in the very next frame, when Trevor Plouffe doubled in Danny Santana (who is quickly becoming a Tribe killer) to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. The Indians had tied the game in the top of the 8th and it seemed as though they had this game won. The Indians had all the momentum going into the bottom of the 8th, the always steady Bryan Shaw came on the pitch for the Tribe. After striking out Kendrys Morales, Josh Willingham stepped up to the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, Willingham crushed it over the left field wall to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Whoosh, that was the sound of the air leaving the Indians balloon. All Star closer Glen Perkins came on and made quick work of the Tribe as the Twins would go on to win 4-3, giving the Indians a taste of their own medicine.

Game 2: Santana, Swisher, and Salazar power Tribe to victory
The second biggest Cleveland return of the summer happened in this game. Young fireballer Danny Salazar returned from baseball purgatory (Triple-A) to help the Tribe to an 8-2 win over the Twins. Salazar looked good in his return going 5 innings, allowing only 1 run on 6 hits, walking 3, and striking out 6. The three walks that Salazar issued all came consecutively, so take that however you want to. I thought Salazar could have gone a little longer in the game, but Terry Francona decided to pull him after giving up a leadoff single in the 6th. The Indians took an early 3-0 in the top of the 2nd, thanks to a David Murphy 2-run single and a Mike Aviles sac fly. In the top of the 5th, Carlos Santana launched a 400 foot home run to give the Tribe a 4-1 lead; the home run also tied him with Michael Brantley for the team lead with 15. In the bottom of the 7th, Brian Dozier homered off Scott Atchison (Shoeless Joe Jackson was quoted saying “toughest pitcher I ever faced was Scott Atchison”) to cut the lead to 4-2, Tribe fans everywhere began to sweat.

Then the 9th inning happened; Nick Swisher doubled (Swish went 3-for-4 on the night), then Yan Gomes doubled to drive in Swisher to make it 5-2. After two consecutive groundouts, Jason Kipnis was intentionally walked and then stole second. Chris Dickerson continued his clutch hitting, singling home both Gomes and Kipnis to make it 7-2, and the route was on. Brantley walked (he actually looked human this series going 1-for-9), then the man of the hour came up to the plate. Carlos Santana needed only a triple to complete the cycle (Travis Hafner had the last Tribe cycle in 2003, ironically against the Twins), but had to settle for an RBI double, giving the Tribe an 8-2 lead. The score would stay that way, and the Tribe had a chance to win the series going into game 3.

Game 3: Spot start shutdowns Tribe
The original Twins starter for this game was going to be Kyle Gibson, but back stiffness forced him out. In to replace him was Anthony Swarzak, who had not started a game since 2012 and was also going to be on a strict 60 pitch limit. I don’t know what it is about the Indians not be able to hit against the league worst starters. “I am amazed the Indians win any games, because every starter they face is headed to the Hall of Fame.”—Dennis Manoloff’s reaction on Twitter. This game should have been the easiest win on the entire road trip, but things are never that simple when you root for the Indians. Really the only thing the Tribe had to do today was make the Swarzak throw as many pitches as he could, instead he was able to go 5 innings, throwing only 74 pitches, allowing 1 run on 2(!) hits before he handed it over to one of the best bullpens in the league. Trevor Bauer took the mound for the Tribe, fresh off his first career road win, and hoped to make it two in a row. Bauer was a victim of no run support, he went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 2, and striking out 7, recording the loss as his record fell to 4-5 on the season.

The Indians scored first in this game in the top of the 3rd, when fresh off the bus from Columbus, Jose Ramirez doubled to drive in David Murphy to give the Tribe the early 1-0 lead. Then, in might have been the turning point in the game, Michael Brantley hit a line drive right back up the middle, it should have driven in 2 runs, but instead Eduardo Nunez made a great diving play to snare the ball out of the air, as the Twins escaped trailing only 1-0. The Twins came right back to tie the game in the bottom of the 3rd, and then took the lead in the bottom of the 5th. An Oswaldo Arcia solo home run in the 6th made it 3-1 Minnesota. The Indians had a chance in the top of the 8th with two on and two out, with Brantley up at the plate, but it just wasn’t Brantley’s day, as he lightly popped out to Trevor Plouffe to end the threat. Glen Perkins continued his amazing season with another save and the Tribe loses the series to the last place Twins.

Next Up: The Tribe ends their 11-game AL Central road trip with 3 games at Kansas City

— Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)

AP Photo/Jim Mone

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