The Indians seemed poised to cruise to a quick 4-1 victory over the Twins, but wildness and a dropped throw made the game a lot more interesting than it should be.
The Minnesota Twins are baseball's worst club. They're a dual threat, ranking last in the AL in runs scored and ERA, and of their 10 victories, 7 of them have been by 1 run. So after struggling in Fenway Park, this short two-game series in spacious Target Field in theory should be a nice reprieve for a team that's started to show some flaws.
Jeanmar Gomez made short work of the Twins, allowing one (unearned) run on three in seven innings. Given the makeup of the Twins' lineup, it's probably folly to make much out of Gomez's outing. The lone Twins run off Gomez came in the third inning when Carlos Santana threw wildly to third base, allowing Darin Mastoianni to score. Jeanmar did walk three Twins, but for the most part was economical with his pitches, getting through seven with only 97 pitches thrown.
The biggest hit of the game came from an unlikely source. Casey Kotchman came into tonight's game hitting .186/.270/.275, and grounded out to shortstop his first time up. His second time up was in the fifth, and Jose Lopez was at second after doubling to start the inning. Then Casey blasted a two-run homer over the right field wall, and the Indians suddenly had a seemingly comfortable 4-1.
Gomez probably could have gone another inning, but some of the back-end relievers needed work, so Manny Acta brought Vinnine Pestano to pitch the eighth. Pestano's last outing in Boston had been a struggle to say the least, and this outing proved to be cut from the same cloth. He walked Denard Span, then fell behind Brian Dozier before inducing him to fly out. He struck out Joe Mauer on a full count, and with Span running on the pitch, Carlos Santana threw a one-hop strike to second, but Jason Kipnis couldn't handle it, and the inning continued. Pestano then gave up a double to Josh Willingham, and his night was over, for Acta wanted to turn Ryan Doumit around. Nick Hagadone was brought it, but the plan backfired in a big way, for Doumit blasted a two-run homer, knotting the game at 4. Acta called on Joe Smith to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Matt Capps, Minnesota's putative closer, came in to pitch the top of the ninth. Casey Kotchman again provided some offense, hitting a single with one out in the inning. After he went to second on a wild pitch with two outs, Shin-Soo Choo singled Kotchman (or rather Lou Marson, who was pinch-running) home with the go-ahead run. Choo was hitting leadoff for the first time this season, and it won't be a one-off event.
Chris Perez made sure the bottom of the ninth would not be eventful, retiring the Twins in order.