After experiencing the worst road trip in their 112-year history as a franchise, the Cleveland Indians are desperately hoping a return home can reverse their recent run of futility.
The spiraling Tribe take a nine-game losing streak into tonight's clash with the Minnesota Twins from Progressive Field, with the club's latest setback likely ranking as the most deflating of the bunch.
Cleveland appeared poised to end its skid after putting up three runs in the top of the 10th inning of Sunday's matchup at Detroit, but the Tigers scored five times -- all with two out -- off All-Star closer Chris Perez to come away with an improbable 10-8 victory that left the Indians with an 0-9 record on the trek.
The Indians had never previously gone winless on a road swing of nine games or more. They've also allowed at least five runs in each of the defeats, marking only the second time in team annals that has happened. It also occurred during a nine-game slide in 1973.
Travis Hafner belted his 200th career home run and Ezequiel Cabrera followed with his first in the majors to give Cleveland a 7-5 lead in the 10th, and Lou Marson added an RBI double later in the inning to extend the margin.
Perez then retired the first two batters in the bottom of the frame, but unraveled from there.
Back-to-back walks and an RBI double from Austin Jackson brought the Tigers to within 8-6, and Omar Infante delivered a single to plate two more runs and tie the score. Miguel Cabrera then launched Perez's pitch over the wall in left- center field to cap Detroit's comeback.
The Indians are now mired in their longest losing streak since dropping 11 in a row from Sept. 13-24, 2009.
"Obviously every body knows we're playing bad ball and this has been a terrible road trip," said Perez. "You keep coming back adding one on, keep coming back adding one on, put three up in extra innings, and then watch me kiss it away just sucks."
Cleveland's present drought began with three consecutive losses to the Twins at Target Field from July 27-29. Minnesota's Scott Diamond spun a three-hitter for his first career shutout to open that series, and the impressive rookie will take the ball again for his team to start this three-game set.
Diamond struck out six without a walk that night, and the lefty also held the Tribe to three unearned runs over seven innings to notch the win in Minnesota's 6-3 decision at Progressive Field on June 3. In four lifetime outings against Cleveland, he's 2-1 with a 2.28 earned run average.
The native Canadian is coming off a losing effort his last time out, though, after being touched for three runs in 7 1/3 innings versus American League Central leader Chicago last Wednesday.
Minnesota enters tonight's tilt having won seven of its last 10 contests and got its current seven-game trip off to an excellent start by posting three straight triumphs in Boston. The Twins couldn't complete the sweep, however, dropping a 6-4 verdict to the Red Sox in Sunday's finale.
The Twins couldn't get the bats going against Boston starter Franklin Morales, with the left-hander yielding just one run and three hits over his six innings of work. Minnesota did make a strong rally in the ninth, scoring three times on homers by Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit to pull within 6-4, but Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves came on to set down the next three hitters and end the belated comeback bid.
"Tough one today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said afterward. "We didn't do much hitting. Their guy (Morales) shut us down pretty good. He was tough."
Minnesota's Ben Revere did single in his first at-bat off Morales to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest by a Twins player since Torii Hunter had a 23-game run during the 2007 season. The speedy outfielder is batting .363 (29-for-80) over his tear.
The Twins will try to obtain a little more success tonight in their first-ever meeting with Cleveland rookie Zach McAllister, who's fighting through a losing spell of his own right now.
McAllister is 0-2 over his last three starts, though he's lasted at least six innings in each of those assignments. The young righty wasn't real sharp in Wednesday's encounter with Kansas City, permitting five runs (4 earned) in six frames to fall to 4-3 on the season.
The 24-year-old, who last won on July 16 after tossing six innings of one-run ball at Tampa Bay, does own a solid 2-1 record and a 3.09 ERA in seven home starts this year.
The Twins have prevailed in five of eight previous bouts with the Indians this season and took two of three from Cleveland at Progressive Field back in early June.