CLEVELAND -- It has been a fluky series for the front end of the Indians' starting rotation.The Twins were able to tax reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber on Friday night. An injury-shortened and otherwise dull start from Carlos Carrasco in the middle game on Saturday resulted
CLEVELAND -- It has been a fluky series for the front end of the Indians' starting rotation.
The Twins were able to tax reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber on Friday night. An injury-shortened and otherwise dull start from Carlos Carrasco in the middle game on Saturday resulted in Cleveland's fifth straight loss to Minnesota, 9-3, at Progressive Field. The Indians (36-33) have lost four of their last five, while the Twins (31-36) crept to four games behind the first-place Tribe in the AL Central.
"I mean, they're a good hitting team to begin with, and it's become contagious," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We talk about it all the time with us: You get runners on, the holes open, guys are moving."
Carrasco (8-5) exited the game after he was struck on the right forearm on a line drive by Joe Mauer to lead off the second. He was diagnosed with a contusion and was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary X-rays. His outing lasted 1 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits -- all in the first.
"He was missing his spots, not by a lot," Francona said. "He fell behind in the count, and then when he came in with a fastball, they were ready to hit it and they leaned on it pretty good."
The Indians were only able to muster three runs -- two of which came on homers by Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez in the first. Jason Kipnis plated Cleveland's last run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Naquin. The Indians strung three straight hits in the eighth, but they were unable to push a run across.
All three runs scored by Cleveland were given up by starter Fernando Romero, who went four innings and allowed six hits. The win was credited to Matt Magill (2-1), who threw three no-hit innings.
After Carrasco's departure, Francona used six guys on the mound to finish the game, including right-hander Adam Plutko, who was scheduled to start the series finale on Sunday. The rookie came on in the seventh and pitched two innings, surrendering a no-doubt homer off the bat of Eddie Rosario.
"He's unbelievable," Plutko said of Rosario. "You just tip your hat. The guy is on fire right now, and you can live with making your pitch and just get beat."
Rosario finished 4-for-4 with four runs, two RBIs and a triple short of the cycle. The Twins' left fielder is 6-for-8 in the series. Through eight games against the Tribe this season, Rosario is hitting .471 (16-for-34) with six homers, two doubles, 11 RBIs, 12 runs and five walks. He also has six homers in his last four games against the Indians.
The loss marks the first time the Twins have won five straight against the Indians since Sept. 8-19, 2012. Minnesota has captured 13 of the past 20, going back to last season.
Naquin, who drove in a run in the fourth, led off the ninth with a double to left to extend his hitting streak to a career-long 10 games. Naquin was stranded, but the outfielder is batting .400 (12-for-30) during the stretch with three doubles, a homer, seven RBIs and six runs.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Rather than have Plutko finish the game, Francona opted to put Brandon Guyer on the mound, making the outfielder the first position player to pitch for the Tribe since Michael Martinez threw a scoreless inning against the White Sox on April 17, 2017. Guyer retired the side in order on eight pitches in his big league pitching debut.
"Honestly, I just wanted to throw strikes," Guyer said. "I knew if I did they'd probably put it in play, and I didn't know how that was going to go. They tried to take me deep, got under some, and luckily, I was able to get out of it."
Guyer's fastest pitch clocked in at 79.2 mph and his slowest was 76.6 mph. Guyer admitted he hadn't pitched since grade school, but Francona said he needed the right-hander to help give the bullpen a rest.
"We volunteered him," Francona said. "I trusted him that he wouldn't go out and do something silly and then get himself into trouble."
HE SAID IT
"It's the biggest fear as a pitcher, is to get hit by a comebacker -- if there is a fear. I mean, you can't really think about it, but it was definitely a scary moment today. I hope [Carrasco] is OK." -- Plutko, on his initial reaction to Carrasco's injury
Francona announced after the game that No. 3 prospect Shane Bieber (0-0, 6.35 ERA) will be called up from Triple-A Columbus to start Sunday's series finale at Progressive Field. Bieber, who has one Major League start, made his debut against the Twins on May 31, and gave up four runs on eight hits, including two homers, over 5 2/3 innings. The rookie struck out six and walked one. The Twins will counter with right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 4.19 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.