MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta doesn’t believe in momentum, and Minnesota Twins left-hander Scott Diamond helped him prove it.
A night after solving reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner Justin Verlander, the Indians couldn’t figure out Diamond (9-4) in an 11-0 loss on Friday.
Diamond was perfect through 4 2-3 innings and allowed just three hits in his first career shutout as the Twins bounced back after getting swept in three games by the Chicago White Sox. Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham both hit three-run homers for Minnesota.
Josh Tomlin (5-8) lasted only four innings, giving up a career-high eight runs in his third loss in as many starts and fifth in his last seven decisions.
“That was a huge win for us against the division (Thursday) and you want to keep going in your division,” Tomlin said. “For me to go out there and do that, put the guys in the hole like that, it’s never a good thing. That’s my fault. The reason we lost the game today was because of me.”
Travis Hafner, who combined with Carlos Santana to homer in back-to-back pitches off Verlander to tie Thursday’s game in the seventh inning, notched two of the Indians’ three hits and has at least one hit in each of his 15 career games at Target Field. His two-out single in the fifth inning provided Cleveland its first baserunner with the Twins already leading 8-0. Lopez followed with a single, but Diamond escaped without further damage — allowing just Hafner’s single in the eighth inning.
“He’s got a good cut fastball,” Indians catcher Lou Marson said. “That, and his changeup, was good today. He was pounding the strike zone, getting ahead. He had us chasing after some bad pitches today.”
Tomlin gave up a season-high tying 10 hits.
“Josh just lacked command — too many pitches down the middle of the plate,” Acta said. “His ball was up in the zone and he just doesn’t have that good of stuff to get away with pitches in the middle of the plate and up in the zone.”
With two outs in the first inning, Morneau blasted an 0-1 cut fastball 421 feet to right field for his first homer since July 6, raising Tomlin’s first-inning ERA this season to 11.65. The right-hander settled in from there and could have escaped the fourth inning trailing by just three runs with a little defensive help.
Instead, with two outs and runners on second and third, Ben Revere’s grounder up the middle caromed off Jason Kipnis’ glove, allowing both runs to score. Revere was credited with a single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Joe Mauer followed with the second of his three singles, and Willingham emptied the bases with a three-run homer.
“Revere is pretty fast, so that probably had something to do with it,” Acta said of the missed defensive opportunity. “But yeah, (Kipnis) usually makes that and even more. He’s been terrific defensively.”
Tomlin was unable to pick up his club from there, casting doubt on his next start for an Indians club now 4 1/2 games behind the first-place White Sox. His ERA ballooned to 5.87, and Acta wouldn’t commit to Tomlin retaining his spot in the rotation.
“We have to make things better around here, that’s not a secret,” Acta said. “No one is sitting here saying he’s not going to be starting in five days, but obviously it’s been recurring problem and we’re going to have to look at options. And he’s not the only one.”
NOTES: An MRI on Indians LHP Rafael Perez’s strained left lat showed no further damage. Out since April 26, Perez reported shoulder fatigue during his rehab and will be shut down for three to five days. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hafner and Santana are the first two players to homer on consecutive pitches against Verlander. … Minnesota’s Samuel Deduno (1-0, 3.94 ERA) faces Justin Masterson (7-8, 4.12) on Saturday night. Deduno earned his first career win in his last start. Masterson is 7-6 with a 3.63 ERA over his last 17 starts.
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