CLEVELAND -- The Indians arrived home for their weekend series against the Twins as one of baseball's hottest offenses. Cleveland was churning out runs at a high rate and used that high-octane approach to chase down Minnesota to reclaim first place in the American League Central.
Things can change fast in baseball.
On Sunday, the Indians were dealt a 4-0 defeat by a Twins club that had its mind set on some payback when it unpacked its bags at Progressive Field for this series. Minnesota got just that, sweeping the Tribe at home and moving back in front by a half-game in the division standings. Throughout the three-game brooming, the Twins locked Cleveland's lineup up when it mattered most.
"We were undisciplined," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Over the course of the past three defeats combined, Cleveland went 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position, stranding 30 runners total and ending with only two runs scored. That was a far cry from the lineup that produced 7.6 runs per game in the previous nine contests, including a four-game sweep of the Twins a week ago in which the Indians out-scored Minnesota, 28-8.
Needless to say, the Twins were thrilled to exact a little revenge.
"We've been talking about getting embarrassed at home," Minnesota second baseman James Dozier said. "And now I can say it: We wanted to stick it to them. Especially today -- after [winning] yesterday -- and not just be content with winning the series."
The Indians stranded one runner 10 times, two runners seven times and left the bases loaded twice in the three losses to the Twins. Catcher Yan Gomes was the posterboy for the offensive problems on Sunday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, stranding six runners on his own. Slugger Edwin Encarnacion also made the final out three times within the first five innings, stranding three.
During the series, the Indians went 0-for-10 after putting two or more baserunners aboard with one or zero outs.
"It's definitely frustrating, but we've got to move on," Gomes said. "It's a tough time to hit us. We hit a little bump. We had plenty of opportunities this week, but again, you've just got to put it past you. The beauty about baseball is we get to play again tomorrow."
Indeed, the Indians had their chances.
On Friday night, Twins lefty Adalberto Mejia walked five batters in his five innings, but did not allow a run. On Saturday, righty Kyle Gibson was chased after issuing four free passes in 4 2/3 innings, but he managed to limit the Indians to one run. In the finale, it was Ervin Santana's turn to stymie Cleveland's offense. The righty scattered nine hits, but held the Tribe to a 1-for-8 showing with RISP in his six shutout innings.
"We couldn't keep a line moving," Francona said. "They either elevated the fastball a little bit or [in] a fastball count, [would] throw something off the fastball. We never made them throw something. ... We were certainly able to get our hits, but we never strung anything together."
As more hitters walked back to the dugout with their head hung, the personal pressure continued to mount.
"I think it can be a little bit of human nature where you're trying to do too much," Francona said. "Then, it kind of plays into their hand."