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Twins stun Indians in extras, shutout Tribe, 1-0

Offense stays cold, as Axford serves up another crucial homer

Twins stun Indians in extras, shutout Tribe, 1-0
Zach McAllister gave the Indians 6 2/3 scoreless innings Monday, but picked up a no-decision (Photo: Chuck Crow)
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CLEVELAND—Déjà vu?

You can say that again.

Deadlocked in a scoreless tie in the tenth inning, Tribe closer John Axford (0-3, 4.85 ERA) thrived in his role of the villain for the second straight game.

Coming into the ballgame in a non-save situation Monday, Axford served up what would be the game-winning solo homer to Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar, as Minnesota hung onto defeat the Indians, 1-0.

The long ball comes just one day after the right-hander allowed a three-run homer to Chicago’s Dayan Viciedo Sunday afternoon.

“Just a bad pitch,” Axford said. “It’s great to get back out there, it’s something that you want and something I want. I want to go out there the next game and get the job done to erase the slate. Unfortunately, with the second pitch, it didn’t work out.”

Cleveland (13-19) falls to six games below the .500 mark with the loss, tying their season-high. They now sit 7.5 games out of first place in the central division.

“I’ve definitely had my ups and downs,” Axford said. “I can look back at those and remember what I did, and where I put myself mentally to overcome those obstacles. That’s what I need to do now.”

The Indians also need to remember how to hit.

Struggles continued to mount offensively for the ballclub, as they were shutout on just three hits Monday night.

Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson allowed just two hits to Mike Aviles through seven innings of work. Going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position in the contest, Cleveland has gone a dismal 1-for17 with RISP over their last three games.

“We’re just fairly inconsistent right now,” Francona said “We got in some hitters counts, and we hit some balls hard. But even in hitters counts we’re not getting real good swings. I think it’s kind of team wide and we just have to fight through it together.”

Fighting is what Tribe starting pitchers have done the last two games, despite having no victories to show for it.

Starter Zach McAllister left off where Corey Kluber did on Sunday, tossing 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball on five hits, walking one and striking out eight.

“I thought I commanded the ball pretty well tonight,” McAllister said. “I was able to be aggressive in the strike zone. I got some quick outs but I was also able to get some strikeouts too.”

“Zach pitched so well,” manager Terry Francona said. “He pitched with his fastball and worked ahead pitching out of a couple jams. That’s two in a row. That’s about as good as they’re going to pitch”

Together, McAllister and Kluber gave up just one earned run combined over the last two games, striking out 21 over 15 innings of work.

“It’s unbelievable,” Axford said. “It’s a shame my performance the last two days has kind of taken presentence over a great hitting performance by George [Kottaras] and two outstanding starting performances from [Corey] Kluber and Zach. Hopefully everyone knows that those guys are doing their best and working hard, and doing fantastic for us.”

Over the last three games, Indians starting pitchers have allowed just one earned run in their last 22 innings pitched, posting a remarkable 0.40 ERA.

“I think after the first couple games of the year, I thought we’ve been on a role and pretty consistent,” McAllister said of the starting rotation. “Especially these last three games have been pretty fun to watch and good to be a part of.”

Even with losing eight of their last 10, the team remains optimistic going forward.

“I felt like we’ve played better baseball of late,” McAllister said. “The last couple games we haven’t been able to show for it, but I think we’re coming around. Our pitching has been great, and our offense is putting good swings on the ball. They just need to start falling.”

Whether or not fans may have the same view at the moment, Axford remains a key piece through the eyes of his teammates as well.

“He’s been a huge part of this team and a huge part of every win that we’ve had,” McAllister said. “We trust him every time we hand him the ball. His stuff is just too good not to be good out there.”

“It’s just part of the game right now, and it happens. “We’re ready for him to get the ball again whenever that time is.”

The Tribe falls to 4-15 on the season when scoring three runs or fewer, while also dropping to 3-13 when allowing the opposition to score first in a ballgame.

Up next for Indians: The Wahoo’s look to get back in the win column in the second game of the four-game series with Minnesota Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. Making his first start since July 27, 2012, right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his season debut against Twins starter Samuel Deduno (0-1, 2.89 ERA).

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

shy
May 6, 2014 - 11:54 AM EDT
Yeah Axford making excuses for giving up the game winner to a little guy w 4 career homers after making excuses for giving up a gamewinner after not going after the light hitters the night before is like the dog saying I'm sorry I crapped in your living room and then coming back and peeing in your bed. I don't know if the dog or Axford for that matter can't help himself or is addicted to drama. But for the other Indians pitchers to give up 1 run in two games and still lose both games on Axford walks and bombs is pathetic. And another thing, you sit the hottest hitter on the team- Chisenhall and replace him w a rook who freezes and takes 3 strikes. I have seen Chisenhall take lefties off the wall. Obviously Francona was looking the other way when he did it. If he has no faith in Chiz to be the everyday third baseman, then they should trade him so he has an opportunity somewhere else. The platoon thing and micro-managing is no way to develop young players
bob
May 6, 2014 - 11:16 AM EDT
Let's face it non of the last 2 pitchers we faced were Cy Young. I was concerned when Brantley and Murphy would slump. Don't what to think. Maybe it is time to give Aguilar a look.
Hermie13
May 6, 2014 - 11:06 AM EDT
@C L Who

Don't really need to release Giambi to bring up Aguilar now that Giambi is on the DL.

Wouldn't mind seeing Bourn head to the DL (he needs to be 100% healthy) and Aguilar brought up. Could DH against LHP, maybe spell Swisher on occasion at 1B. Can send Lee down for Tomlin.
C L Who
May 6, 2014 - 10:32 AM EDT
The starters are pitching so well and the batters are wasting the performances. Gibson isn't Cy Young.

Will the FO at long last release Giambi and bring up Aguilar? I know he didn't hit well in ST, but if he can hit a bit now maybe a single spark will start a prairie fire. What is there to lose?
GSon
May 6, 2014 - 10:09 AM EDT
Good luck on your 19 hour flight, Aussie..get a bunch of sleep.. it's not like there's a lot to do, otherwise...
Walter
May 6, 2014 - 9:10 AM EDT
The 10th inning did not matter. This game was lost before the 10th inning. If you can not hit or score runs, you can not win. The hitters should be ashamed on the performance they have put up in the first 32 games.

Rich
May 6, 2014 - 8:58 AM EDT
McAllister was clearly tiring in the 8th. He gave up his first walk on a 3-2 pitch that wasn't close. Bringing him out for the 9th would have been a bad move.

Axford needs to keep the ball down. Both HR's were on belt-high fastballs. This one really hurt because it was hit by a 175-pound utility infielder who entered the game as a pinch runner and had only 3 career HR's in 343 AB's.

On a night when the wind was blowing in and the ball was not carrying, it was a shock to see this guy go deep. Another horrible performance by Axford.
Steve
May 6, 2014 - 8:07 AM EDT
I hope Tomlin doesn't have to pitch a complete game shut out in order to get the win.
Tondo
May 6, 2014 - 7:36 AM EDT
Man, those last two games have been tough losses. Now sitting at 13-19 instead of 15-17. On the bright side, there was a lot of bad luck involved yesterday with the bats. It seemed like every 2nd out was a liner into a glove. Gibson only had one K.

But still, I don't understand how ACab is still hitting 6th. I'd rather see Murphy or Gomes come to bat.

The Tribe needs Swish and Santana to hit again or at least try. Right now, they look like they just want a walk when they come to bat. Their confidence is shot, they play scared.
Avory
May 6, 2014 - 2:17 AM EDT
Aussie, I'm really happy you're coming up from down under to see the team in person. Just make sure to hit Honey Hut ice cream on State Road in Brooklyn, just south of the Cleveland Zoo.

As far as Allen goes, I don't want him or Shaw in the closer role; they are far too valuable being used flexibly. There's nothing wrong with Axford being used as the closer, as long as Allen or Shaw can be used to finish games where they weren't used previously. Shaw and Allen are our best relievers, and in games like Sunday, if Kluber can't come out for the 9th (and I don't see why not since he had thrown only 110 pitches, few if any in stressful situations) then there's no reason not to use Allen or Shaw in the 9th. Heck, if you want Axford to rack up saves, let Shaw or Allen get the first two guys out, then bring in Ax for the stupid statistic. Not using your best available reliever to nail down a game when they are available (and both warmed up earlier in that particular game) is nothing more than a slavish and stupid adherence to some sort of rote push-button managing and frankly, the Cleveland Indians margin is not so great that you can indulge is such managerial poppycock.
Aussie Tribe
May 6, 2014 - 2:03 AM EDT
Got my flights, accommodation and tickets booked for mid June. Finally going to see the tribe in person. Allen will have 10 saves by then (presuming we score some runs)
art
May 6, 2014 - 1:39 AM EDT
Starting to feel like the closer from last season...

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