CLEVELAND -- The Minnesota Twins escaped Jacobs Field with a wind-aided, 4-1 victory over the Indians on Sunday.
The Minnesota Twins escaped Jacobs Field with a wind-aided, 4-1 victory over the Indians on Sunday. Wind-aided because of the stiff breeze blowing in from center field that, incredibly, stilled just as Minnesota’s Mike Redmond was crushing a game-tying double over the head of right fielder Trot Nixon. Wind-aided because of the breeze being generated at home plate by Indians hitters, who struck out 12 times. Wind-aided because, over the past three weeks, the once-hopeful talk of postseason baseball is looking like just more hot air. “More often that not, these guys have made plays to help us win ball games or hang on,” Manager Eric Wedge said. “Today, we didn’t.” The Indians didn’t, and haven’t in a while. They have lost five of their past seven games, five of their past seven series and are 9-13 since July 3. Don’t blame C.C. Sabathia (13-6), however. He pitched seven shutout innings, but his team was clinging to a 1-0 lead because the Indians’ offense was going nowhere. The Twins finally broke through in the eighth, and Sabathia took his fourth loss in five July starts. “If the guys are not hitting, I need to be shutting the other offense down,” Sabathia said. “This is one of those tough stretches. The fact we’ve been about .500 and not played our best baseball is encouraging. When we do turn it on, we’ll be fine.” Good to know. The Indians just weren’t quite ready to turn it on Sunday. Twins rookie right-hander Matt Garza dominated during his fourth start of the season, striking out 11 in six innings. The only Indians run off Garza came on Nixon’s second-inning RBI double. “He used both sides of the plate, he pitched away when he needed to and he kept us from getting big hits,” Nixon said. Minnesota left-hander Johan Santana had struck out 12 Indians a day earlier. “Yesterday, Santana was pretty special,” Wedge said. “Today, it was more on us. Garza was good, but I felt like we could have done a better job against him.” The Indians have scored one run in Sabathia’s past two starts. Sabathia did a good job for seven innings, but sparked the decisive rally in the ninth by hitting Jason Tyner in the back with a one-out pitch. Redmond came up with two out and belted a long drive to right field that fell out of Nixon’s reach for a double that gave the Twins a 2-1 lead. “The wind was blowing in all day,” Wedge explained. “Then, it seemed like everything died down.” Nixon didn’t offer a wholehearted endorsement of the dead-wind theory. “He just hit it over my head,” Nixon said. “I thought I had a bead on it, but the ball kept carrying.” Second baseman Josh Barfield booted Joe Mauer’s ground ball, then compounded the error by throwing wide of first baseman Ryan Garko as another run scored. Justin Morneau’s RBI double down the left-field line widened the gap to 3-1. “I just missed it,” Barfield said. “You can’t play scared out there.” Dennys Reyes (2-1) induced an inning-ending double-play ground ball from Garko in the eighth. Joe Nathan induced an inning-ending double-play ground ball from Franklin Gutierrez in the ninth to finish off his 22nd save. Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.