Trailing 7-3 heading into the eighth inning on a beautiful, sun-splashed day in downtown Minneapolis, your Cleveland Indians seemed like a team staring a series loss to an inferior opponent right in the face. But as we have seen so many times this season, just when you are ready to write these guys off, they respond in a huge way.
The Twins reliever Jared Burton gave way to Casey Fien. As usual Jason Kipnis was right in the middle of the action, beating out a leadoff infield single. Carlos Santana then sent a ground ball towards first baseman Justin Morneau, but the former AL MVP booted it. Kipnis ended up on third base. Mr. Clutch Michael Brantley naturally singled home Kipnis, bringing the tying run to the plate. It was the second RBI hit for Brantley to this point. Jason Giambi was next.
For all of the hand-wringing over his continued place on this roster, Giambi always seems to save his biggest hits for the most opportune times. The grizzled vet delivered the shot of the day, a three-run, game-tying homer to right field which stunned the Target Field faithful and energized the visiting Wahoos.
“G’s homer was huge,” said Francona. “Yes, we were on the road, but the score was tied and it gave us a chance to keep playing.”
The slumping offense erased deficits of 4-0 and 7-3, but could they come all the way back and close the deal?
They were put in this predicament because of another failed start from Carlos Carrasco. As I tried to warn you, the five inning scoreless relief appearance he had this weekend was just another in a long live of teases from the power-throwing righty. We’ve seen this movie many times before. Carrasco was leaving his breaking stuff middle in and the opposing team gladly took advantage. The Twins scored twice in the first and twice in the second on seven hits. He couldn’t make it out of the fifth, putting an already tired bullpen in an even bigger predicament. Rich Hill bailed him out of a first and second one out jam, but he exited giving up 10 hits in four and a third.
“Carrasco’s stuff is always good, but he makes too many mistakes. Sometimes he’s making two or three mistakes with his location in one at-bat. He’s paying the price for it.”
Having someone in the rotation that you can’t count on this late in the season with so much at stake just cannot happen. With a day off Thursday and another Monday, the Indians can make some sort of adjustment. I just can’t see how you can trot Carrasco again unless it is as a long reliever. There is another option – Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yes, the Dice-Diggity is still in the organization and has been much better of late for Columbus. In his last three starts, Dice-K has allowed five earned runs in 21 innings. It may be time to see what he can give you. It certainly can’t be any worse than Carrasco who’s future with this team may be as a reliever.
The left-hander Hill didn’t fair much better after working out of the fifth. With one out in the sixth, he gave up a single to Clete Thomas, hit Pedro Florimon, and walked Brian Dozier to load the bases for Joe Mauer, which is never a good idea. Despite the left on left matchup, Mauer singled home two runs, stretching the Twins lead to 6-3. Matt Albers came on to relieve Hill, who was left in at least two hitters too long and induced a Morneau inning-ending double play. The Twins would add a seventh run off of Albers in the seventh before the Tribe comeback began.
After Giambi’s heroics, the game would end up in extra innings. Twins closer Glen Perkins started his second inning of work in the 10th, something he normally he does not do. It would come back to bite manager Ron Gardenhire. Carlos Santana, the cleanup hitter with Asdrubal Cabrera not in the starting lineup, gave the Indians a huge shot in the arm with what we thought was going to be the game-winning homer. There was jubilation in Wahoo Nation, but it wouldn’t last long.
That’s because Chris Perez came on with his gas can in tow.
He retired Dozier for the first out of the 10th, but Mauer was next. The Twins catcher is still one of the games best hitters and has owned the Indians in his career. Already 4-4 on the day, Mauer took a CP pitch the other way for a game-tying solo blast. It was another in a long line of gut punches the Indians have received in the last 10 days. But CP calmly recovered to finish the 10th and pitch a 1-2-3 11th. The blown save was again horrifically timed by Perez, but the Tribe offense would respond one more time.
In the 12th against Ryan Pressly, Nick Swisher and Kipnis led off with back to back singles. Santana followed with a deep fly out to right, which moved Swisher to third. Then once again, Dr. Smooth himself delivered. Brantley’s sac fly to center brought home Swish to put the Tribe back on top. It was a classic case of “get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in.”
Joe Smith would come on to pitch a perfect 12th for the save of a gigantic comeback win.
Despite the disastrous start from Carrasco, the porous relief work from Hill, and the blown save from Perez the Indians persevered, fought there way back to come away with a monster W.
“This was a nice win for us,” said manager Terry Francona. “It’s a travel day and we’ve got an off day Thursday. Hopefully, we can get our bullpen as much rest as possible.”
The series win came a lot harder than the Tribe had hoped for, but as always, you will be thrilled taking two out of three regardless of who you are playing. The Indians have played 20 straight days and will welcome this day off before a enormous series with one of the teams they are currently battling for the Wild Card spots with, the Oakland Athletics. The Indians sit three games back of both the A’s and Tampa Bay. Oakland’s game with Houston had not been finished at the time this recap was published.
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)