MINNEAPOLIS – Early Saturday, Cleveland manager Manny Acta said he was expecting more from his starting pitchers this season. The rotation entered the game against Minnesota with the same amount of wins and six more losses than at the same point a year ago.
Unfortunately for the Indians, Justin Masterson didn't do much to alleviate Acta's disappointment.
Masterson allowed 10 runs — eight earned — as the Twins beat the Indians 12-5 on Saturday night.
The Indians have been outscored 23-5 in the first two games of the weekend series, and fell to 50-51.
"We've had highs and lows and they always seem to come back," Acta said. "We have fallen under .500 before. We just take it one day at a time. We've been there before."
Through 101 games, Indians starting pitchers are 36-44 with a 4.85 ERA.
Masterson looked sharp early, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, nine of them on groundballs.
After walking Joe Mauer with two outs and a protecting a 1-0 lead in the fourth, Masterson gave up a two-run homer to Josh Willingham that put Minnesota ahead for good. Willingham took a close two-strike pitch, then drilled Masterson's next offering into the left-field seats.
"It was definitely close, in my own mind," Masterson said. "But you have to come back and make another pitch."
A controversial call at first base helped lead to three more Minnesota runs in the fifth. Umpire Chris Guccione ruled Jack Hannahan's throw had pulled Casey Kotchman off first base. Replays showed Kotchman did have his foot on the bag and that batter Danny Valencia never touched it.
"When things are going bad, this is the stuff that happens," said Hannahan.
Acta, though, didn't blame the loss on bad calls.
"It's tough for them to keep their cool but that's part of the game," he said. "It's the human element that sometimes it's not going to go your way, you're just going to have to shake it off."
Minnesota piled on five in the sixth thanks to a pair of two-run doubles by Alexi Casilla and Denard Span that chased Masterson (7-9).
The Indians, still stinging from Friday night's 11-0 loss, scored first when Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a single, stole second and came around on a pair of groundouts.
But that was about all Cleveland could do against Twins starter Samuel Deduno (2-0), who retired 17 of the last 21 batters he faced for his second career win.
Carlos Santana homered with a man on in the eighth for the Indians, and just missed another with the bases loaded in the ninth when Cleveland struck for two runs.
"I'm not worried about this team," Hannahan said. "We just need to get it all together. We still have time to put it together and play well down the stretch."
NOTES: Valencia started at third base in place of the injured Trevor Plouffe. "I told him, 'Relax, have fun, just like you did before, just go play. Play the game.' That's what he's going to do," Gardenhire said before the game. ... Through 101 games, Indians starting pitchers are 36-44 with a 4.85 ERA. Before the game, Acta admitted he expected more from his rotation. "My expectations have always been to win, and if you're expecting to win you can't be expecting to be bottom five in pitching. ... SS Brent Lillibridge made his first start for Cleveland since being acquired from Boston last week. ... The teams wrap up their three-game series on Sunday when Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9) faces Brian Duensing (1-6) in place of Liriano.