CLEVELAND - The Twins have waited four months to field a fully healthy lineup, believing they would begin to produce runs the way they expected to.
However, they have had several of their regulars in the lineup in recent weeks, and the offense has continued to look anemic. What difference does it make, at this point, if Michael Cuddyer is on the field with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau?
The Twins on Saturday were shut down, once again, during a 3-1 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. They stumbled to their 11th loss in their past 13 games and will try to avoid being swept in the three-game series Sunday when they face lefthander David Huff.
Indians righthander Josh Tomlin made it look easy Saturday as he worked over a Twins team that's headed nowhere.
In 6 1/3 innings, Tomlin held the Twins to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out two.
At 12-5, Tomlin is tied for fourth in the American League in wins. He threw only 84 pitches.
"Their pitcher shut us down,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said." We hit some balls hard. Really nothing to show for it. Another tough loss. It just keeps not going our way.''
Why would anything change at this point? The Twins entered Saturday next to last in the league in runs scored and total bases. They were last in walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
They can't hit. And they went down in order in five of their nine innings Saturday.
Denard Span singled in the sixth inning to break a 1-for-33 skid. Matt Tolbert swung for the fences while going 0-for-4 -- and he's not a power hitter.
One person who should be hitting an occasional home run -- Joe Mauer -- is batting .233 over his past 11 games.
Those were the first three hitters in the lineup Saturday.
The Twins scored their only run of the game in the seventh inning when Delmon Young's blooper to right fell in, allowing Justin Morneau to score. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who does have a nine-game hitting streak, came to the plate with runners on first and third with two outs. Lefthander Rafael Perez entered the game for Cleveland.
Three swings and misses later, the inning -- and the Twins' final scoring threat -- was over. The Twins are averaging 3.07 runs over their past 13 games. They have scored one or no runs five times during that period.
So lefthander Brian Duensing's solid effort was wasted.
Duensing, 8-11, gave up three runs over 6 2/3 innings while striking out a career-high nine batters. He has struck out at least six batters four times over his past eight outings.
His one big mistake cost him the game. He left a changeup over the middle of the plate to Asdrubal Cabrera in the third, and the All-Star shortstop drove the pitch onto the porch in left for a three-run homer. It was Cabrera's 20th homer of the season, making him one of three Indians shortstops ever to hit at least 20 homers in a season.
"One bad pitch, one mistake, and it hurt me tonight,'' Duensing said. "Other than that, I felt pretty decent.''
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