CLEVELAND (AP) — Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s first season with Minnesota was a major disappointment. His second stint with the Twins is off to an even worse start.
Nishioka committed one error and misplayed another ball in the sun Wednesday, directly leading to four runs, and the Cleveland Indians snapped their 11-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over Minnesota.
The 28-year-old second baseman, who was promoted from Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, also went hitless in four at-bats. In three games with the Twins, Nishioka has three errors and is 0 for 12 at the plate.
“We brought him up to see what he could do, and today wasn’t a good day,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Today was not a good day. I’m not going to go any farther. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
A former Nippon Professional Baseball batting champion, Nishioka hit .226 for Minnesota last season. He also made 10 errors in 60 games at shortstop, prompting his position change this spring.
Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana each had RBI hits in the first inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead against left-hander Brian Duensing (2-7). Cleveland tacked on two runs in the second and two more in the sixth, fueled by Nishioka’s shaky defense.
In the second, Nishioka made a diving stop of a Brent Lillibridge grounder up the middle, but tried to flip the ball with his glove to shortstop Brian Dozier for a forceout. His toss wasn’t even close, and the error allowed Casey Kotchman to slide safely into second base.
Kotchman and Lillibridge both scored unearned runs when they came home on singles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Choo, putting Cleveland ahead 4-0.
“Everyone makes mistakes, it happens, but Nishi is our teammate,” Duensing said. “Everybody loses balls in the sun and physical errors happen. It’s the way baseball is.”
After Alexi Casilla hit a two-run homer in the fifth to pull Minnesota to 4-2, Nishioka gave the runs right back. He lost Shelley Duncan’s leadoff pop-up to short right field in the sun, which was scored as a double.
Two batters later, Kotchman hit a chopper to Nishioka, who tried to gun down pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera at home, but threw the ball too high for catcher Ryan Doumit to apply a tag. Kotchman reached base on the fielder’s choice and also came around to score.
“There is a very fine line between a good and a bad play,” Nishioka said. “I did my best to make the play, so I’m not worried too much. I will do my best if I have a chance to play next time.”
Duensing went seven innings, allowing 11 hits, six runs (four earned) and one walk. He struck out three in becoming the first pitcher to lose to the Indians since July 26.
Cleveland’s 11-game losing streak was one shy of its franchise record set from May 7-21, 1931. It was outscored 95-36 during the skid.
“Duensing actually deserved a little better than he got,” Gardenhire said. “We made misplays and didn’t make plays, and it turns into a rough day for Duensing.”
Indians right-hander Justin Masterson (8-10) earned the victory with seven innings of three-hit ball, walking four and striking out seven. He also ended Minnesota right fielder Ben Revere’s career-high hitting streak at 21 games, which was the longest by a Twins player since Torii Hunter had a 23-gamer in 2007.
Vinnie Pestano and Esmil Rogers each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game for Cleveland.
“I’m sure there was relief in all of Cleveland and every Cleveland fan in the country,” Masterson said with a long sigh. “We can win.”
Casilla had two of the Twins’ four hits, including his first home run since June 21, 2011. Denard Span and Ryan Doumit had one hit apiece, while Revere went 0 for 4.
Minnesota completed its seven-game road trip with a 5-2 record and is 9-4 in its last 13 games. It had won seven straight over Cleveland.
Choo went 4 for 4 with two RBIs while Santana extended his streak of games with an RBI to four in a row.
“Our guys stayed pretty strong mentally the whole time (during the streak),” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “It’s a credit to them.”
“As usual, pitching sets the tone. Pitching got us into this mess and pitching got us out of it.”
NOTES: Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe (bruised right thumb), who is on the 15-day DL, will be re-evaluated Thursday in Minneapolis. Gardenhire said he was “progressing nicely.” … Minnesota leads the major leagues with 134 double plays. … Revere hit .378 (34 for 90) during his hitting streak. … Indians DH Travis Hafner (back soreness) missed his third straight game and underwent an MRI. Acta said his status will be updated Thursday. … Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11) faces Red Sox LHP Felix Doubront (10-5) in the opener of a four-game series Thursday. … Minnesota, which is off Thursday, returns home for a three-game series against Tampa Bay. Twins RHP Cole DeVries (2-2) pitches against Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6-7) on Friday night.
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