CLEVELAND – Righthanded starter Samuel Deduno finished strong. Lefthanded reliever Logan Darnell was lights out in his major league debut.
The Indians didn’t have a hit after the third inning — the third!
All Cleveland needed were those first two innings. That’s when Deduno was shaky, and so was the Twins’ defense. It was enough for the Indians to get away with a 4-2 victory at Progressive Field. Righthander Josh Tomlin won his first game since July 5, 2012.
“A bad start for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Twins starters were on quite a roll before Tuesday’s game. Over the previous eight games, the rotation posted a 2.98 ERA. Over the previous four, it was 1.84. It coincided with the Twins surging back to .500 and entering the game with a three-game winning streak.
Deduno, many believed, was their most talented starter last year and deserved to be in the Opening Day rotation. The Twins wanted to be careful with him coming off offseason shoulder surgery But his time came when Mike Pelfrey misfired his way to a 0-3 record and 7.99 ERA.
Deduno had his share of wayward pitches early.
“I wasn’t frustrated because it was my first start,” Deduno said. “I missed a couple pitches up.”
Michael Brantley delivered an RBI single in the first inning and went to second when center fielder Sam Fuld’s throw missed the cutoff man. That set up the next run, when first baseman Chris Colabello had a routine, inning-ending tapper by David Murphy roll through his legs. Brantley scored to make it 2-0.
Lonnie Chisenhall led off the second with a single. Then, with Yan Gomes at the plate, Deduno had the ball slip out of his hand while on the rubber for a balk.
“I was brushing my leg and that’s why I dropped the ball,” Deduno said. “I just tried to stay focused.”
Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki went to the mound to calm Deduno. He put his arm around him and patted him on the shoulder. But Gomes hit Deduno’s first pitch for an RBI double. Nick Swisher later hit a high changeup for a two-out RBI single to make it 4-0 in the second — and end the Indians’ scoring for the night.
Deduno got through five innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits and two walks. Darnell replaced Deduno and retired all nine batters he faced. Cleveland scored all it needed in the first two innings as Tomlin shut down the Twins.
Tomlin entered Tuesday 1-3 with a 7.67 ERA in his career against the Twins — but he’s a different pitcher now.
He pitched only two innings all of last year, the season taken away from him after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He made his first start of the season Tuesday after being called up from Class AAA Columbus to replace Carlos Carrasco in the rotation.
Tomlin was removed with two outs in the seventh and left the field to a standing ovation from the sparse Progressive Field crowd, announced at 9,621. Tomlin gave up one run — a Colabello solo homer in the seventh — over 6⅔ innings. The Twins got one more run in the ninth on an RBI double by Eduardo Escobar.
“[Tomlin] did a really nice job of moving the ball in and out and pitched well against us,” Gardenhire said.