Twins fall to Indians

Published 8:48 am Monday, July 22, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — Ailing Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came into his office looking as sick as his team’s bats appeared in Minnesota’s 7-1 loss to Cleveland.

Gardenhire has been bothered by the flu for two days and watched the game from the Target Field clubhouse while bench coach Terry Steinbach called the shots in the dugout before taking his turn in front of reporters.

“Jeeze, you almost got no-hit,” Gardenhire to Steinbach. “Get them the hell out of here.”

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The ease Gardenhire showed in dismissing the media was similar to how simple Cleveland’s Justin Masterson made it look in limiting the Twins to one hit in seven shutout innings.

The Twins’ only base hit off Masterson was a broken-bat, bloop double to center field by Brian Dozier, who doubled again in the ninth. The rest of Minnesota’s batting order came up empty against Masterson and three relievers.

“We got some pretty good hitters in our lineup, and he went through it pretty easily,” Steinbach said. “He had his good stuff going. He was nasty.”

Masterson (11-7) had faced the minimum through six, allowing only a hit batter, when Dozier dunked the first pitch of the seventh inning into center field and under the glove of a sliding Drew Stubbs.

“Those are always hard to read, a broken bat,” Masterson said. “In the end we get a victory, and that’s what I want to see and that’s what I wanted.”

The Indians led 3-0 on Mike Aviles’ sacrifice fly and a two-run homer by Jason Kipnis when they loaded the bases with one out in the fifth on a walk to Kipnis and consecutive singles by Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana off Minnesota starter Scott Diamond (5-9).

With right-hander Anthony Swarzak warming in the bullpen, Steinbach visited Diamond on the mound. Diamond got Mark Reynolds to pop out to first for the second out, but Michael Brantley hit a liner to the wall in right-center for a standup triple that cleared the bases and ended Diamond’s day.

“I was one pitch away in the fifth,” Diamond said. “It’s frustrating that I couldn’t get that last out.”

The Twins scored when Dozier came in from third on Joe Mauer’s one-out grounder to second that Kipnis bobbled for an error, his second in two days. But the first-time All-Star also homered for the second time in two days, both opposite-field liners to left.

Diamond, the Twins’ best starter last season as a rookie (12-9, 3.59 ERA), gave up six runs, five earned, on seven hits and three walks in losing his third straight decision. The left-hander hasn’t won since beating the White Sox on June 20, and his ERA rose to 5.53.

Masterson finished the seventh before being pulled after 91 pitches for right-hander C.C. Lee. Masterson, also selected to his first All-Star team this year, was charged with an earned run on one hit and struck out eight in his first victory since June 30 against the White Sox. He lowered his ERA to 3.60.

Masterson plunked Aaron Hicks in the elbow in the third inning, but Hicks was thrown out attempting to steal and Pedro Florimon grounded out to end the inning. That was as much as the Twins could muster against Masterson until the seventh, when Dozier looped the first pitch into shallow center.

NOTES: Indians RHP Corey Kluber could have his next start pushed back a day after leaving Saturday night’s 3-2 loss after five innings because of a hip injury. Kluber said his left hamstring tightened up on him during the game and was sore, but he didn’t anticipate missing his next scheduled bullpen session Monday. … Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe has struck out six straight times — and he fanned seven times in the series. He was pulled in the eighth for pinch-hitter Doug Bernier, who walked to reach base for the first time in the majors. The infielder was 0 for 4 in two games with the Colorado Rockies in 2008.