CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Indian hitters continued to doze off on their first road trip of the season on Sunday, recording just two hits in a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The twin pitchers limited the Indians to a pair of hits, including one with runners in goal position. It was a trend that pulled together all four of the weekend series for the Cleveland offense, as the club fell to 5-5 on the season, 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the third. place of the Central Division of the American League.
First base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. dealt with the Indians after the club announced that Terry Francona returned to the team’s hotel before the game with a gastrointestinal issue. Alomar said the Indian hitters need to fine-tune their attack plan from bat to bat.
“Our offense is in a funk right now,” Alomar said. “We need to have more quality bats. There have been times we’ve hit bullets directly at people, and they’re not going to show up. It’s still early days and the guys just need to have better approaches.
Cleveland’s inability to score points on the scoreboard spoiled a quality start for pitcher Aaron Civale, who tied a career-high with nine strikeouts in six innings against the league’s leading offense. Minnesota.
“He had a little bump in the road at the start of the game and after that he settled in and made his throws, kept us in the game,” Alomar said of Civale’s exit. “The main thing is that the opportunity was there for us to come back and he kept us in the game, kept his cool.
Despite Civale’s effort, bright spots were hard to find for the Indians, who had no base for a runner until the fourth round.
Francisco Lindor extended his streak at Target Field to 11 games with an RBI single to the left wall that scored Cesar Hernandez in the fourth. It was the second longest streak by an Indian batter at Target Field behind Travis Hafner’s 15th straight from April 2010 to July 2012. But Lindor tried to stretch the shot in a brace and was thrown in second place by Eddie Rosario.
The race broke a 15 innings scoreless streak for Cleveland. The club haven’t had any consecutive punches since the sixth inning of Thursday’s win against the Twins.
Civale, after working the first three innings with a high pitching count, completed six frames and put out the last 10 batters he faced, including four on strikeouts. He finished with nine punches and five hits awarded, giving up three earned runs without stepping with a batter.
“I definitely worked on some things today,” Civale said. “I went there, I fought and I gave everything to keep the team in the game. I tried to do it the best I could.
Minnesota right-hander Tyler Clippard found out on Saturday night that he was leaving after Sunday’s original starter Homer Bailey was placed on the 10-day injured list with a sore right elbow. It was Clippard’s 13th career start, including three as an “opener” last season when playing for the Indians.
Clippard pitched 21 pitches over two innings, abandoning all six batters he faced before southpaw Devin Smeltzer took over in the third. Four other Twins relievers have combined to keep the Indians scoreless over the past four innings.
“Hitting is all about confidence,” Alomar said. “Right now our guys are a little depressed. They just need to trust each other with two strikes, to take the bats a step further.
Minnesota took the lead in the first inning when Max Kepler doubled down on the right pitch line and scored on a single left bloop by Jorge Polanco. Civale knocked out Nelson Cruz and put Eddie Rosario in the middle before Indians wide receiver Beau Taylor threw Polanco out trying to steal second to complete the set.
The Indian Seekers have eliminated three of the four potential base thieves this season after leading the American League in that category (34.6%) last year. Since 2013, Cleveland catchers have led the majors in percentage of flights captured (33.3%).
Mitch Garver added a first home homerun against Civale in the second inning, Garver’s second career homerun against Civale at Target Field. The Twins scored another run in the third as Kepler doubled up on the right and scored on Cruz’s RBI single down center. It was Cruz’s 13th league-leading RBI and his first in the series.
Francona was due to return to Cleveland for an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday. Baseball operations president Chris Antonetti said it was reasonable to assume that Francona, 61, could miss Monday and Tuesday’s games against the Reds at Great American Ballpark.
Next: The Indians travel to Cincinnati for the first of four games in a home series against the Reds at the Great American Ballpark. Right-hander Zach Plesac (0-0, 0.00) will depart for Cleveland while Cincinnati will send right-hander Sonny Gray (2-0, 0.71) to the mound. The series travels to Cleveland for two games starting Wednesday. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM 1100 AM and WMMS 100.7 FM will broadcast all four games.
New Indian masks for sale: Here’s where you can purchase Cleveland Indian-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB profits are donated to charity.
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