CLEVELAND - Carl Pavano had his pitches working Friday. The righthander's control was excellent, and he took it to an Indians team trying to win the American League Central.
Unfortunately for Pavano, chaos surrounded him on the infield. The Twins missed play after play, enabling Cleveland to come back for a 3-2 victory at Progressive Field.
"I think we got one error," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "but there should have been four. There was one error on the board, but the scorekeeper is really boosting their averages because this is the major leagues and those balls are supposed to be outs."
An upset Gardenhire ended his postgame news conference a little earlier than usual.
At the top of the list of poor fielders was shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who might have played his worst game in the field this year. He didn't make plays he should have made. He made mental mistakes. And the ball kept finding him.
Nishioka tried to atone for his defense with a pair of RBI singles. But it wasn't enough.
"Part of growing up," Gardenhire said. "Growing up and learning."
The sixth inning was when the mistakes caught up with the Twins.
Ezequiel Carrera dropped a bunt in front of Danny Valencia at third leading off the inning.
"You can't get him out, then you're not in far enough," Gardenhire said.
Shin-Soo Choo, playing in his first game since being activated from the disabled list, sent a sinking liner just to Nishioka's left. The ball ate up Nishioka, deflecting toward second. Alexi Casilla tried to stab at the ball but missed. There were runners on first and second. Pavano held out his hands in surprise as the ball caromed off of Nishioka.
Jason Kipnis sent a potential double-play ball to short, but Nishioka booted it. He recovered in time to retire Carrera at third.
Asdrubal Cabrera sent a grounder to first baseman Justin Morneau, who whirled and threw to Nishioka at second. Whatever small chance Nishioka had at turning a double play ended when he couldn't get the ball out of his glove. That put runners on first and third.
Travis Hafner sent a grounder to Nishioka that should have ended the inning. But Nishioka mishandled the ball for that lone Twins error. Choo scored to tie the game 1-1, and Pavano pounded his glove in frustration.
"Pavano pitched well tonight, but my mistake disrupted his rhythm," Nishioka said. "I feel very sorry, but there is another game tomorrow so there is no time to be depressed."
The Twins had similar problems in the seventh inning, when Cleveland loaded the bases with one out on misplays by Matt Tolbert, who came in for the injured Casilla. Pavano pitched out of it, although he had to make the final out at first when Nishioka wasn't covering second on a grounder to Morneau. Pavano spiked the ball in frustration as he left the field.
Nishioka's second RBI single of the game gave the Twins a 2-1 lead in the eighth. But Cleveland came back in the bottom of the inning.
Gardenhire pulled Pavano for lefthander Glen Perkins with a runner on first. But Carlos Santana, batting .300 vs. lefties and .207 vs. righties, pounded a RBI double to tie the score. Two batters later, Matt LaPorta dropped a double in front of a diving Ben Revere in left, scoring Santana.
"A tough loss," Gardenhire said. "We need some people to play a lot better baseball."