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Indians lose rubber match to Twins as Justin Masterson struggles

There were less frustrating ways I could have spent four hours of my Sunday afternoon...

Jason Miller

Game 6: Twins 10, Indians 7

Sunday afternoon's rubber match between the Indian and Twins was a long one, as both bullpens were heavily used and both lineups put a lot of runners on base. Justin Masterson started for the Tribe, and since he was the only starter who looked good during the first trip through the rotation this season, it was good to take him take the mound. Unfortunately, he didn't have it today. He hit a batter in teach of the first two innings and only a pair of double plays kept the Twins from scoring more than 2 runs.

The 2nd inning also featured a strange play that may have altered the outcome of the game. With runners on first and second and one out, Minnesota's Chris Colabello hit a nubber that traveled only a few feet. Yan Gomes pounced on it quickly and threw to second base, hoping to start another double play. Trouble was, neither Jason Kipnis or Mike Aviles had yet gotten to the bag, and the throw bounced into center field.

Masterson was pulled in the 4th inning, with the Tribe down 6-2. That's the third time in the last five games the Indians' starting pitcher was pulled before the 5th inning. The team doesn't have a day off this week, and the bullpen has already been taxed. Speaking of the bullpen, Scott Atchison pitched 1.1 scoreless frames, as did Marc Rzepczynski. Bryan Shaw pitched a shutout inning as well. Blake Wood struggled though, allowed 3 runs while recording only 2 outs. He and Vinnie Pestano seem like the most likely candidates to be sent down, should Francona decide he's willing to operate with a 7-man bullpen (which he should). John Axford also wasn't sharp, as he walked 2 in the 9th.

The lineup did well, yet left you wanting more. They collected 15 hits and 7 walks, led by a 4-hit day from David Murphy and multi-hit efforts from Nick Swisher, Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley. Gomes homered, but was retired in his 4 other at bats, and hit into a double play with the bases loaded and the team down 2 runs. Kipnis had the team's biggest hit of the day, a double that scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th, closing the deficit to a single run. All of that is great, but the Tribe also hit into 2 double plays and left 12 runners on base, including at least 1 in every inning until the 9th. In the big picture, today's hitting is a good sign, but in the context of this particular day, it was very frustrating.

The Indians fall to 3-3 on the young season, and have 3 at home against San Diego and then 4 on the road against the White Sox this week. Neither of those opponents is known for their offense, so the starting rotation better step up its game and do more to help the Tribe win some games.

Box Score

Win-expectancy chart:

Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call:

Game Thread

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