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Game 52: Twins 7, Indians 4

The Indians collected nine hits on the evening, but all of them were singles.
The Indians collected nine hits on the evening, but all of them were singles.

If momentum over the course of a season in baseball is nothing more than the next day's starter, then momentum within a game is nothing more than the next inning's pitcher. The Indians clawed their way back into tonight's game, only to give back three runs in two innings.

The main reason the Twins have been so bad this season has been their execrable starting pitching. So they recently essentially turned over the rotation, sending Francisco Liriano to the bullpen, released Jason Marquis, and placing Nick Blackburn on the DL. And for the most part those who replaced that trio have been pretty good. P.J. Walters, who entered the rotation four weeks ago, had been very good, posting Quality Starts in all four of his starts. Walters has had some major-league experience prior to landing with the Twins, mostly with the Cardinals. But you understand after watching him pitch tonight why he's bounced around recently. He's a control pitcher on his best nights, a nibbler on most nights, and tonight, he was singled to death. A tight strike zone didn't help, but the Indians didn't either, as they like usual worked the count and methodically got themselves back into the game after falling behind 4-0.

Josh Tomlin was the cause of that early deficit. Tomlin, like Walters, succeeds only when he's living at the corners of the strike zone, and tonight he wasn't that good. Had he been facing a better lineup, he probably would not have survived to finish six innings, but after allowing five hits and walk in the first, he settled down and got the Indians through six. However, he allowed a key run in his final inning, a home run to Trevor Plouffe that gave the Twins the lead after the Indians had tied the game just a half-inning earlier.

That run probably changed Manny Acta's bullpen strategy, as instead of sending Joe Smith or Nick Hagadone to pitch the seventh, he tried to get by with using Tony Sipp instead. Sipp would be facing two left-handed hitters to start the inning, but Revere smacked the ball past the drawn-in Lonnie Chisenhall for an infield single, and Joe Mauer turned on an inside fastball to push the lead to 7-4. Sipp has an option left, and now with two left-handers in the bullpen, it might be time to use it.

That was enough, for Ron Gardenhire had left-handed relievers at the ready, and the Tribe's left-handed lineup couldn't touch them. Southpaw Brian Duensing relieved Walters in the fifth, and pitched two perfect innings, and Glenn Perkins, who has taken to a relief role, blew away the Indians in the eighth. A possible Tribe rally in the ninth was short-circuited after Revere made a tremendous play to take a Lonnie Chisenhall double to lead off the inning.

Source: FanGraphs