If the Cleveland Indians don’t make the American League wild card playoffs, they can look back at the third inning of Tuesday’s 3-1 series opening loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field as one of many reasons why. Danny Salazar had retired the first eight Twins on just 23 pitches. Salazar looked to have Eduardo Escobar struck out to end the inning. Home plate umpire Tom Hallion called the pitch ball four. The walk started a domino effect that would cost the Indians.
Salazar would then surrender an rbi triple to Aaron Hicks that would drive in Escobar. Michael Brantley appeared to make a diving catch of Hick’s triple in left center field but he could not hold onto the ball as hit hit the ground. Salazar would then give up back to back rbi doubles to Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer and what should have been a scoreless game heading to the fourth inning is now a 3-0 Twins lead with still two outs. It could have been more but Francisco Lindor robbed Trevor Plouffe of an rbi single with a diving stop in the hole at shortstop and a terrific two hop throw to first to just get Plouffe by a half a step.
Salazar would throw another 40 pitches in the inning after the missed strike three. Salazar would leave the game after six innings on a night where he was on pace to go deep into the ballgame as he threw just 16 pitches to get through the first two innings of the game. Salazar would only allow the three runs in third inning on five hits with three walks and four strike outs. Salazar’s record falls to 13-9 on the season.
Last month, the Indians hit Tuesday’s starter for the Twins, Ervin Santana all over Progressive Field in a 17-4 victory. Tuesday night was a different story. The Indians only manager one run on five hits off Santana in his seven innings of work. Santana would only walk one and struck out seven to pick up his sixth win of the season.
The Indians lone run of the game came in the fifth inning. Yan Gomes would double to open up the inning and score on a Jose Ramirez single to Mauer at first base. Ramirez would move up to second on Mauer’s throwing error. Gomes would have a pair of doubles in the ball game.
The Indians remain just four and a half games out of the final wild card spot with Houston’s 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. However, the Indians lose a game on both the Twins and Angels who are ahead of the tribe in the wild card standings. With the loss, the Indians will not be able to pass the Twins in the wild card race no matter how the final two games of the series turn out.
Brantley left the game in the fourth inning with a right shoulder injury suffered on his diving attempt on Hicks’ rbi triple in the third inning. Brantley was replaced by Michael Martinez in left field.
With the loss, the Indians fall back below the .500 mark again with a record of 74-75. The Indians have not been above .500 since early April.