Covering the Bases: Game 53

Final:

Twins 6, Indians 3

FIRST: The storyline of the Tribe’s struggles against left-handed pitching this season has already been beaten to death. There’s not much else to say on the issue that has not already been said. Here’s the thing, though. The problem does not only rest with the lefty-heavy lineup.

“The issue is,” Indians manager Manny Acta said, “when we try to sneak some of those right-handed bats in there that are supposed to help us out, they’re not hitting them either. That’s the main thing. It’s not like the guys that we’re putting in for the left-handers are crushing them.”

Cleveland’s right-handers vs. LHP

Asdrubal Cabrera: .339 (21-for-62)
Jose Lopez: .267 (8-for-30)
Shelley Duncan: .245 (12-for-49)
Lou Marson: .235 (4-for-17)
Carlos Santana: .231 (12-for-52)
Aaron Cunningham: .172 (5-for-29)

On Sunday, Acta had six righties (Cabrera, Lopez, Duncan, Marson, Cunningham and Matt LaPorta) in the lineup to counter Twins lefty Scott Diamond. That group went 4-for-17 against Diamond with an RBI apiece for Lopez, Duncan and Marson. To be fair, it was better production than the season showing as a whole.

Heading into Sunday’s action, the Indians ranked last (30th) in MLB with a .212 average against lefties and 29th (14th in the American League) with a .630 OPS vs. lefties. Cleveland’s 10 homers off southpaws were tied for 12th in the AL. All of this while leading the AL with 613 at-bats against left-handers.

The Indians’ right-handed hitters as a group were hitting .231 (11th in the AL) with a .639 OPS (12th) and seven home runs (14th).

Cleveland is now 4-12 vs. lefty starters this season.

SECOND: After Diamond shut the Indians down to the tune of three unearned runs over seven innings, the Twins handed the ball to left-hander Glen Perkins. That marked the 36th time in 52 games that Cleveland’s opponent turned to a lefty first in games when the bullpen is used. That’s 69-percent of the time.

THIRD: We’ve heard from Negative Nancy enough for today. From the glass-half-full department, sinkerballer Justin Masterson turned in a decent bounceback outing for the Indians. Masterson allowed three runs over six innings for a quality start after giving up eight runs last time out (Tuesday) against the Royals.

The Twins bled Masterson to death with choppers and bunt singles. He was surprised by the fact that Minnesota squeezed out three runs against him. The three walks issued certainly didn’t help. Two wound up turning into runs. That said, Masterson’s performance would’ve been enough on most days.

HOME: Matt LaPorta’s 2012 debut for the Tribe was unspectacular at the plate, but he did look decent with the glove.

In the batter’s box, LaPorta went 1-for-4 with a ninth-inning single. He reached on an error in the seventh inning and later scored on a double by Lou Marson. In the field, LaPorta gloved a grounder from Alexi Casilla and threw out Brian Dozier on a scoring attempt at the plate.

LaPorta led off with the ninth with a base hit, but — as fate would have it — Casey Kotchman (the man signed to replace LaPorta at first base) grounded into a rally-killing double play.

On deck:

First-Year Player Draft
Indians pick No. 15
at 7 p.m. ET on Monday
on MLB Network and MLB.com

Indians (28-25) at Tigers (25-29)
at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Comerica Park

–JB

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