After a rainy Friday, the sun was out today, but that was the only good about the weather. The game-time temperature was 36 degrees, and the wind was regularly blowing at 20 miles per hour, chilling the fans that braved the weather to see the Indians play.
The play on the field wasn't much better. The Twins took the lead on the second pitch of the game,a Brian Dozier home run hit through the teeth of the wind blowing in from left field. The pitch was a fastball that came back over the inner half of the plate, and at least for the first couple innings that's where many of Carrasco's fastballs ended up. After retiring Joe Mauer on a dribbler in front of the plate, Carrasco threw another fastball in a hitting zone, and Josh Willingham didn't miss it, hammering a double to deep center field. Carrasco would give up a walk and two more singles, and by the time he left for the dugout, the Twins had a 3-0 lead.
Carrasco's struggles continued a trend begun on Wednesday, when Corey Kluber got hammered early. After Justin Masterson's gem on Opening Day, each of the following four pitchers had struggled just to get into the middle innings. Yesterday Danny Salazar somehow got away with allowing just two runs, and the Indians were able to come back later in the game. But Carrasco's three first inning runs were to be too much for the Indians to overcome. Although he did settle down, pitching into the sixth, largely saving the bullpen. Carlos' curveball was sharp and effective, and after the first inning his fastball location did get better. He would allow two more runs, one unearned, in the third inning, but none after that.
Twins starter Kyle Gibson wasn't exactly sharp early on either, but he managed to quell several rallies with good pitches. The Indians had their best opportunity in the third inning, when Lonnie Chisenhall opened the frame with a double and Nyjer Morgan followed with a walk. But a Nick Swisher double play limited the damage to one run, and that would be all the Indians would get off Gibson. Ron Gardenhire pulled Gibson after he walked Jason Kipnis to begin the sixth, and the Minnesota bullpen would hold the Tribe offense down until the ninth inning.
One of the main reasons the Indians came into today with a winning record despite the starting pitcher troubles has been the bullpen. Scott Atchison and Josh Outman continued the excellent trend by throwing 2.1 scoreless innings of relief, but Vinnie Pestano, who struggled in Oakland, again had a bad outing today. He allowed two runs on three hits and walk, so instead of the Indians trailing 5-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, they trailed 7-1, and so despite scoring two runs the Tribe didn't bring the tying run to the plate. Perhaps it will Pestano that will be optioned down when Michael Bourn returns to the linup, as Lonnie Chisenhall again had a productive day at the plate (1-3, 2B).
Justin Masterson heads to the mound tomorrow, hopefully ending this trend of poor starting pitching. Game time will be 1:05, with temperatures forecast to be in the high 50s.
Fangraphs Win-Expectancy Chart:
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