CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Catcher Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians reacts after being hit in the hand by a foul tip during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on September 18, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
What happened last night was not a major-league baseball game, at least a major-league baseball game that we're used to. The Indians used a franchise-record 10 pitchers last night, something that's only possible when the roster expand. You'd expect this type of nonsense on the last game of the season, when usually the starting pitcher is "Staff", but there's still 14 games to go, and unfortunately I'm betting that at least one more will have the flavor of this one.
Huff got the start because he had had two very good relief outings, but this time, when a club prepared specifically for him, he got smacked around. Huff allowed 3 runs on 7 hits in 4.1 innings, putting the nail in his coffin. Sure, he'll pitch again this season, but I don't think there's anything he can in an appearance or two that can counteract both a poor AAA season and what happened last night.
The Indians would use 9 pitchers after Huff left in the 5th inning, but for the most part they pitched well. Aside from Cody Allen's run allowed in the 7th, the bullpen (7 pitchers) would hold the Twins scoreless until the 12th, and those runs were tainted to say the least.
Lonnie Chisenhall went deep in the second, his second home run since returning from the DL. Lonnie has been one of the few bright spots this month, especially since at the time of his injury it was expected that he'd miss practically the rest of the season. He'll be playing winter ball to not only get in some more at-bats, but to get some at-bats against quality left-handed pitching, which is something he's vulnerable against at this stage in his career.
So what happened in the 12th? The box score says this:
M. LaPorta at first - J. Willingham struck out looking - S. Maine relieved E. Rogers - J. Morneau grounded out to second - D. Mastroianni singled to shallow right - D. Mastroianni stole second - A. Casilla singled to shallow right, D. Mastroianni scored - J. Carroll singled to shallow left, A. Casilla to second - P. Florimon singled to shallow right, A. Casilla scored, J. Carroll to second, J. Carroll out at third
But that Casilla single should have been ruled an error. Casilla hit a ball slightly into the hole between first and second base, and Kipnis got to it, but when he turned to throw to first base, no one was there! Matt LaPorta had went for the ball and hadn't got back to the base, thinking that the ball had gone through. And not only was Casilla safe, but Mastroianni scored all the way from second base on a ball that barely left the infield.
Acta said it was the wrong approach, no matter where the ball wound up.
"You don't think. You see the ball go through," Acta said. "You have to see the ball go through before you decide to become a cutoff man. That's pretty much a routine ball to second base. Plus, if that ball goes through, we don't need a cutoff man.
Jason Kipnis has been a second baseman for less time than LaPorta has been a second baseman; Kipnis is now a good defender, while LaPorta, well, isn't. This screw-up isn't going to change the Indians' minds one way or the other, since his hitting (or lack thereof) this season has likely sealed his fate anyway.
The Twins would score another run in the inning, so when Carlos Santana hit a home run in the bottom of the 12th, it didn't tie the game. Speaking of ties, the Indians and Twins are now tied for fourth in next year's draft. Oh yeah...they're also tied with the Twins for last place in the American League.
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