MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Getting men on base hasn’t been a problem of late for the Minnesota Twins. Getting them home is another story.
The Twins stranded nine men on base and were hitless in eight tries with runners in scoring position in an 8-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Tuesday night.
Minnesota has won just once since hosting the All-Star Game a week ago.
“I don’t think you can point to anything. It’s just basically not hitting,” said Minnesota’s Brian Dozier, who did his part with three hits, including his career-high 19th home run in the seventh inning. “It’s not getting guys on base to drive in runs, and the next time we get guys on base and can’t come through with a two-out hit, myself included.”
Carlos Santana homered among his season high-tying four hits and Danny Salazar won in his first start in more than two months for the Indians, who won for the fourth time in six games since the break.
Santana hit a no-doubt solo shot to right field in the fifth to put the Indians up 4-1. He also had two doubles and a bunt single to beat a defensive shift. Nick Swisher had his first three-hit game of the year for Cleveland.
Twins starter Yohan Pino (1-3) was sent to Triple-A Rochester after his July 10 start largely to remain on somewhat of a routine during the All-Star break. In his lone start with the Red Wings, last Thursday, Pino allowed five runs and walked seven in five innings.
On Tuesday, Pino allowed seven hits and four earned runs in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out five and didn’t issue a walk.
“Pino battled,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We got behind early. He hung in there pretty doggone good. We just didn’t do enough offensively. Obviously we had some chances again and misfired a couple times when we had some opportunities. And then the game got a little out of whack there at the end.”
Cleveland closer Cody Allen struck out pinch-hitter Chris Parmelee with a runner on third in a two-run game in the eighth inning before Cleveland scored four times in the ninth off Twins right-hander Matt Guerrier to negate a save opportunity when Carlos Carrasco pitched the ninth.
“When you get behind guys it’s tough to battle back and make quality pitches when you’re just trying to get a strike,” said Guerrier, who gave up four hits and a pair of walks in the ninth. “It was just one of those days when nothing was going good.”
Making his first appearance in the majors since May 15, Salazar (2-4) scattered six hits and allowed one earned run in five-plus innings. He walked three and struck out six.
After eight starts with the Indians, Salazar was sent to Triple-A Columbus to work on his mechanics and build up arm strength to last deeper into games. He went 3-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 starts there, but was 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his last four outings while looking more like the right-hander who had a 3.12 ERA in 10 late-season starts for Cleveland last season.
He was erratic as the Twins often worked him deep into counts, but he emerged relatively unscathed as Minnesota’s clutch hitting continued to be absent.
“It’s just one of those things that snowballs when you start doing it well and you starting hitting it,” Gardenhire said. “And then you go into a funk and you keep misfiring. Maybe they’re trying a little too hard or trying to do a little too much.”
A double, hit by pitch and single loaded the bases for Cleveland with no outs in the second. Yan Gomes struck out looking before David Murphy hit a two-run single to right. A sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles made it 3-0.
Salazar issued three straight walks to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, before striking out Sam Fuld and Danny Santana.
NOTES: Cleveland optioned right-handed reliever C.C. Lee to Columbus to clear room on its roster for Salazar. … Cleveland RHP Trevor Bauer (4-4, 3.89 ERA) is scheduled to face Minnesota RHP Anthony Swarzak (1-0, 4.34 ERA) in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. … Swarzak is a last-minute replacement for scheduled starter Kyle Gibson, who was scratched due to low back spasms. . Dozier was named the Twins 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner by the MLB Players Alumni Association. The award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game. The winner from the 30 team nominees will be announced Nov. 18.