Game 97: Twins 7, Indians 5

Never has a 4-4 road trip seemed so devastating.

 

The Indians went .500 on an eight-game road trip, and that included a doubleheader. When people 50 years from browse baseball-reference.brain while sitting their favorite anti-gravity recliner, that's all they'll see. Well, along with high-definition 3D video with built-in Smello-vision, but that isn't the point I'm trying to make. The Indians could have gone 6-2 or 7-1, and in the process, have put the Twins right out of the division race if they swept the series in Minnesota. But instead, there are four teams still alive for the AL Central race, and with more teams involved, the more likely it is that one of them not residing in Ohio goes on a tear between now and the end of the season.

And then there's the way the Indians lost those four games, and especially the last two. You could make the argument that Francisco Liriano kept the Twins in the race by beaning Travis Buck. I am not saying that Liriano threw the pitch intentionally; I don't think anyone on the Indians think that, or there would have repercussions almost immediately. But the Twins certainly benefited by Buck not being in left field on Tuesday evening and this afternoon. Luis Valbuena was put into a position to fail because of circumstances out of his control; he was as much an outfielder any more than Ryan Garko did. The difference being that Eric Wedge placed Garko there by choice, and Manny Acta placed Valbuena there by necessity.  Yes, the Indians could have DFAd someone on the 40-man roster and recalled a Chad Huffman or Jerad Head in time for this afternoon's game (it hasn't been 10 days since Shelley Duncan's last option), but Manny Acta the front office took a chance of getting through today's game without having Valbuena adversely affecting it. And with their game not until Friday evening, there would be plenty of time to make a roster move if both Michael Brantley and Travis Buck were still unable to play.

In the eighth inning, with the game tied at 4, Alexi Casilla hit a fly ball into the left-center gap, but closer to left field. Luis Valbuena and Ezequiel Carrera's ran into each other, and the ball dropped for a double. Carrera probably should have called Valbuena off, or if he thought Valbuena could catch it, should have cleared out. He did neither.

"I got scared," Valbuena said. "I thought I had the ball and I felt Carrera next to me. I thought we were going to [run into each other]. It happens."

Later, Valbuena let a catchable ball drop in front of him, and the Twins had runners on first and third with nobody out. Tony Sipp struck out Michael Cuddyer, but walked LGFT Jim Thome to load the bases. Vinnie Pestano was called on to faced Danny Valencia, and induced what should have been an inning-ending line-drive double play, but Orlando Cabrera couldn't catch it. To add insult to injury, Tsuyoshi Nishioka singled through the hole on the left side of the infield to push the lead to 7-4. If Pestano gets out of that inning with just the one run allowed, Lonnie Chisenhall's home run in the ninth ties the game. But the solo blast only affect the margin of the of the final score.

 

 

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via www.fangraphs.com


 

Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Hafner .189 Santana -.221
A. Cabrera .151 Pestano -.192
LaPorta .093 Valbuena (offense only!) -.180
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