The Indians' win streak has come to an end. While the final score doesn't indicate a particularly bad outing for the Tribe, some bad signs of the early going are becoming trends and some horrors of seasons' past are also rearing their head. Justin Masterson's line was bad: 4.0 IP, 5 R (2 ER), 5 BB's, 6 K's and should've been worse. He allowed at least two baserunners in every inning and pitched into and out of trouble multiple times. More discouragingly, he was miserable against left-handed batters: Span had a walk and a single, Hudson a walk, an HBP and a single, Morneau a double, single and a walk. Curiously, he dominated Joe Mauer (K and DP) and Jason Kubel (2 K's). Masterson has made zero progress against lefties in the early going and it's still a huge question as to how he's going to start games at the major league level if he doesn't get this cleaned up.
The game turned, however, not on Masterson's ineptitude but instead on Asdrubal Cabrera's. In the 3rd inning, Masterson had two men on and none out when he got Delmon Young to hit a tailor-made double play ball that Cabrera allowed to pass through his legs. The inning should've been over but, instead, the bases were loaded with only one out. Masterson then walked in a run and used a wild pitch/throwing error combination to allow two more to score. After a sacrifice fly, Span ended the inning on a strikeout and the Twins were up 5-1.
Offensively, the Indians' looked as offensive as they have all season. While I haven't seen any clippings regarding their PowerPoint usage, the Twins must have some sort of hypnosis coordinator that forces young pitchers to throw strikes and Slowey pounded the zone tonight. I have no idea why the Twins are so good at producing "pitchers not throwers" who understand the basic concept of limiting pitch count and free passes but they've done it for years. Slowey is yet another Twin with less than ace stuff who dominated the Indians. He went 8.0 IP, walking none, striking out 9 and surrendering only a single run on a Hafner rocket to RF. Hafner's encouraging power display aside, the Indians looked helpless at the plate: they did not once in the entire game send more than four men to the plate in an inning. The number of strikeouts this lineup is recording is alarming and not at all an artifact of patience. The Indians rank below league average in walks. Indians batters have now struck out 98 times in 13 games or over 7.5 times a game.
The bullpen performed fine with Jamey Wright pitching two scoreless mop-up innings and discussion of the moment Rafael Perez adding a scoreless inning, likely buying himself another week on the Cleveland roster. Jensen Lewis looked genuinely good to my eyes, surrendering only a groundball single in the 8th and otherwise keeping Minnesota hitters off-balance. I guess the bullpen deserves some credit for not allowing the game to get out of hand (especially considering that Wright and Lewis are righties) but the game felt totally out of reach to me from the 4th inning.