MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians’ bullpen had shown signs of moving in the right direction.
Cleveland’s relief corps looked like it hit rock bottom over the last few weeks, capped off with a four-run outing by Carlos Carrasco that blew a three-run lead in the eighth on Tuesday against the White Sox. Going its last 10 consecutive innings without allowing a run was a breath of fresh air. But the streak came to a halt in the Tribe’s 5-3 loss to the Twins on Saturday night at Target Field.
Nick Goody has been one of the Indians’ most reliable relievers this season, going a stretch of 17 games (20 innings) without allowing an earned run from June 25 through Aug. 11. However in two of his last three appearances, the right-hander has given up a long ball, and, on Saturday, it cost the Tribe the game.
“It sucks,” Goody said. “Those guys have picked me up plenty of times and I had the opportunity to do the same and didn’t come through. That’s baseball.”
With the game tied at 2 in the seventh, Mitch Garver took Goody deep to right field for a three-run blast that just squeaked over the wall to put the Twins up, 5-2. Goody recorded the next three consecutive outs and came in the dugout, releasing his anger on a water cooler. Hunter Wood was able to pitch a scoreless eighth, but the Indians’ offense was only able to muster one run on a Jason Kipnis RBI single in the top of the eighth.
“I was just a little up,” Goody said of his pitch location. “I didn’t think he hit it too well, actually, but it went over the fence regardless of if he hit it well or not. It’s a home run.”
Indians starter Aaron Civale grinded through five frames, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his eight big league starts. The 24-year-old exited the game with his team up, 2-1, and Tyler Clippard and Adam Cimber combined to toss a scoreless sixth. But when Cimber returned for the seventh, the wheels fell off the cart.
Willians Astudillo led off the inning with a single to Francisco Lindor, who was unable to make the throw to first, and Jonathan Schoop followed with a triple off the center-field wall that Indians center fielder Oscar Mercado was unable to handle, knotting the game up at 2. Indians manager Terry Francona turned to Oliver Perez to face lefty Max Kepler, but the plate appearance resulted in a walk. That’s when the ball was handed to Goody.
“We didn’t help [the bullpen], either,” Francona said. “Oscar needs to play that as a double. Just play it into a double. Then after that [Yasiel Puig] fires it. So we go from a runner on second to third. That 90 feet is huge. It just kind of got the ball rolling where we couldn’t stop it.”
The loss dropped the Indians to 6 1/2 games behind the Twins in the American League Central and 1 1/2 back of the A's for the second AL Wild Card spot. With only 19 games remaining in the regular season, the deficit may be too large to overcome, but the two teams still match up four more times over the next week.
“I mean, we’re just looking to win every game, so yeah,” Goody said when asked if he felt the team needed to sweep the Twins this weekend to have a chance at the division. “Yeah, we’re here to win every game. Tonight sucked. Tomorrow’s a new day. We’ll just go on from there.”