Some extras from a cold night at the ballpark:
On the Twins’ next road trip, Paul Molitor said Monday, he owes video coordinator Sean Harlin a steak dinner.
That’s because Molitor, at the urging of Harlin, challenged a call in the sixth inning that may have prevented a Cleveland rally and, perhaps, a Twins’ loss.
With one out, Yan Gomes hit a hard grounder to shortstop, but Eduardo Escobar’s throw to first base was low, and the ball popped out of first baseman Byung Ho Park’s glove. Park grabbed the ball out of the air, but Gomes was a step beyond the base and umpire Doug Eddings ruled him safe.
“That was a weird play. To my naked eye, [Park] didn’t catch it,” Molitor said. But the play “looked funny,” he added.
That’s because Gomes hadn’t stepped on first base with his right foot, instead stepping about a foot past the bag then dragging his left toe across the base. That split-second made a big difference, because it gave Park enough time to grab the ball.
Molitor challenged the play, and it took replay officials awhile to review the video, but the ruling finally came: Out.
It didn’t take long to realize how important the play was. The next batter, Marlon Byrd, doubled, a play that may have resulted in a run, or at least would have given the Indians a second-and-third, one-out threat. Instead, Trevor May struck out Juan Uribe and ended the inning.
Milone has early night
It wasn’t a great night for Tommy Milone, whose fourth start followed the pattern of two of his three other starts: Lots of pitches, lots of baserunners. The sloppiness doesn’t amount to a huge number of runs, but with the way the Twins’ offense has been going, it doesn’t take much to make their deficit seem huge.
Perhaps most indicative of all was Milone’s two wild pitches — the first time in his career the control artist has done that. One of them cost him a run, too, when Carlos Santana moved up to second base in the second inning, then scored on a two-out single by Marlon Byrd.
“It might be that I’m just trying not to make a mistake and I’m just overthrowing the ball right into the dirt,” Milone said of his two miscues, both of which were intended to dive toward the dirt, but not get past the catcher. Noting that one actually bounced in front of the plate, Moline said, “I need to trust the pitch I’m throwing and not try to do too much with it.”
His short night was, paradoxically, long. Except for a quick first inning, Milone allowed at least two Cleveland base runners in each of his five innings, and the Indians pushed runs across twice. In the fifth, after Milone retired the first two hitters, Rajai Davis and Jason Kipnis slapped two-out singles, the latter scoring Davis, who also stole a base.
Milone managed to reduce his ERA to a still-worrisome 5.40, but needed 98 pitches to record 14 outs. “I just used too many pitches, that’s been the story here,” Milone said. “It’s been hard for me to get out of the fifth inning.”
A whole lot of pitchers
The game hadn’t been over five minutes when Molitor conferred again with Terry Ryan about the team’s lopsided 14-pitcher roster. They discussed possible transactions, and Molitor said they would talk again Tuesday before making a move.
Expect a decision to be made about Ervin Santana and Tyler Duffey, with either Santana going on the disabled list with a stiff back, or Duffey being optioned back to Rochester. If Santana was to be sidelined, it wouldn’t be a long stint. Since he hasn’t pitched since last Tuesday, he would be eligible to return on May 5, an off day as they travel to Chicago. Given that there is an off day this week, too, that would mean Santana would only miss one more start.