CLEVELAND — The pomp and circumstance from the home opener was gone and so was the dramatic victory Saturday at Progressive Field.
A day after rallying to win their first game at home in front of a sellout crowd, the Indians dropped a lackluster decision to the Twins, 7-3, with only 14,153 fans in attendance.
It was another cold day at the park (36 degrees at first pitch) and the Indians looked as though they’d rather be inside a warm home clubhouse sipping hot cocoa.
Cleveland’s starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco set the negative tone early, allowing three runs in the opening inning, including a home run to leadoff batter Brian Dozier on the second pitch of the game.
Carrasco allowed two more runs — one on consecutive passed balls from catcher Yan Gomes — in the third inning, but he was able to finish strong, shutting out the Twins over the remainder of his 52⁄3-inning outing and striking out five of the last 10 batters he faced.
“(The Twins) were able to keep stringing their at-bats together and add to that (leadoff homer), which really hurt us,” manager Terry Francona said.
“It was five (runs) pretty quick. Then he settled down and pitched pretty well, but the damage had been done.”
“I just started a little bit slow,” said Carrasco, who allowed four earned runs, walked two and hit two batters. “I threw a lot of strikes, but I missed my spots, too.”
Carrasco, who has shown the tendency to allow the dreaded big inning, has also pitched well in flashes during his limited days as a Cleveland starter.
“It’s there and we know it’s there,” Francona said of Carrasco’s top-shelf ability. “There’s a lot to like, but we’ve got to get (guys) out.”
Despite duplicating Carrasco’s lack of command, Twins starter Kyle Gibson had no problem doing just that against Indians hitters, who, for the second straight day, struggled early at the plate.
The only run Cleveland notched off Gibson came in the third inning on a wild pitch, with the 26-year-old right-hander limiting the Indians to three hits and four walks over five innings.
“The first three to four innings, his ball-to-strike ratio was almost even, but we didn’t ever mount anything,” Francona said. “He made pitches when he had to and he started throwing more strikes later in the game.”
“He pitched on both sides of the plate,” Michael Brantley said of Gibson. “He was getting ahead early and mixing in his off-speed (pitches). He did a great job keeping us off balance. It was a tough day out there today.”
Right-hander Vinnie Pestano allowed two runs in the ninth to cancel out the Indians’ two-run final inning that Brantley was a part of.
Carlos Santana walked to lead off the inning against Twins closer Glen Perkins and Brantley moved him to third on a single. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with his first RBI of the season on a double to right-center past a diving Aaron Hicks.
Yan Gomes’ sacrifice fly scored Brantley, with pinch hitter Mike Aviles bouncing into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
There were few offensive stars for Cleveland, which mustered just five hits, but Nyjer Morgan continues to impress in place of injured center fielder Michael Bourn. Morgan reached base four times (two hits, two walks) and is batting .400 (4-for-10) with four walks over five games. He owns the Indians’ second-highest on-base percentage at .533.
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WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota
WHERE: Progressive Field
PITCHERS: Masterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Nolasco (0-1, 7.50)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM