Twins’ offense sputters; 3-game winning streak endsPublished 1:29pm Saturday, June 22, 2013
CLEVELAND — With four home runs in their previous game, the Minnesota Twins came to town looking and feeling strong and hoping to flex their muscles some more.
Scott Kazmir made them look like 98-pound weaklings.
Cleveland’s starter limited the Twins to one run — Brian Dozier’s homer in the sixth — and pitched seven strong innings as the Indians stopped Minnesota’s winning streak at three with a 5-1 victory Friday night.
The Twins had scored 22 runs during their streak, but Kazmir (4-4) never let them get started and held them to five hits.
“It seemed like he got better when he got guys on base,” Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said. “We were one hit away a couple of times. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. Today we didn’t.”
Minnesota’s hitters were never able to rattle Kazmir, who won for the first time since May 30 and continued his remarkable comeback story after being out of the majors for two years.
The Twins came close to having Kazmir in major trouble in the seventh after Trevor Plouffe doubled with one out, but the left-hander regrouped and struck out both Oswaldo Arcia and Clete Thomas looking to end the threat.
“You can look at it one of two ways,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We wasted an opportunity or he made pitches when he had to. By the look of the whole work tonight, he made pitches when he had to.”
Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly — to the second baseman — off Samuel Deduno (3-2) in the third inning and added a bloop, two-run single in Cleveland’s three-run eighth.
Deduno allowed four runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander pitched well enough to win, but didn’t get any support from his teammates.
“Sammy threw the ball great,” Gardenhire said. “He did his job but we only got five hits and didn’t put too much pressure on them offensively.”
The Twins entered with four wins in their past five games and were beginning to make up some ground in the AL Central. But Kazmir, who hadn’t won since May 30, slowed their climb.
Kazmir blanked the Twins on three hits over the first five innings before Dozier opened the sixth with his seventh homer — and fourth in five games — to cut Cleveland’s lead to 2-1.
Dozier turned on a 1-0 pitch and belted it into the bleachers in left. Kazmir, though, regrouped and struck out Joe Mauer, got Ryan Doumit on a grounder and fanned Josh Willingham looking to preserve the lead.
The Indians chased Deduno and added three runs in the seventh on Drew Stubbs’ RBI single and Kipnis’ floater that found a place to land in left.
Mark Reynolds singled and Deduno walked Lonnie Chisenhall before he was replaced by Josh Roenicke, who got one out but gave up Stubbs’ run-scoring hit. Brian Duensing came on and got one out and walked Mike Aviles to load the bases before Kipnis dropped a soft single over shortstop Jamey Carroll’s head to make it 5-1.
“I’m not happy we lost the game but I’m happy with what I’ve been doing,” Deduno said. “I was feeling pretty strong and was throwing the ball good.”
Cleveland went up 2-0 in the third on a play scored as a rare sacrifice fly to second.
Stubbs singled leading off and went to third on Michael Bourn’s single. With one out, Kipnis hit a flare to shallow center that second baseman Dozier ran down and caught behind the bag, but dropped as he was transferring the ball from his glove. Stubbs alertly stayed on the base, tagged and dashed home.
“That was an unbelievable piece of baserunning,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He has no business scoring right there. The instincts to go on that and have the speed to match.”
NOTES: Dozier’s seven homers are a career high. He’s batting .350 (7 for 20) with eight RBIs during a six-game hitting streak. “He’s swinging,” Gardenhire said. “When he gets that pitch he’s cranking it pretty good.” … Twins 1B Justin Mourneau entered the series with 105 career RBIs against the Indians, his most against any club. … The Twins have homered in six straight games. … Despite the loss, the Twins are 13-6 against the Indians since last June.