Published November 20, 2014
The ball just didn't bounce Michael Brantley's way Sunday.
Brantley's three-run homer in the fourth inning was taken off the board upon replay review, a ruling that wound up playing a pivotal role in Cleveland's 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Brantley's shot to right field hit the limestone facing and was initially ruled a home run. He rounded the bases for a 4-2 lead, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire convinced the umpires to review the call. They did, and summoned Brantley out of the dugout and credited him with a two-run double.
If umpires had ruled that the ball caromed off the top of the wall, it would have remained a home run. But replays showed it hit the corner, and all Brantley and the Indians could do was shrug at their misfortune, a game of inches lost by the narrowest of margins.
"They made the right call," Brantley said. "I watched the replay two innings later and it definitely wasn't a home run. It hit the corner of the wall and came back. It was unlucky for us, but that's the way the game goes."
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo threw out two runners at home in the third inning to keep the Indians in it, but starter Carlos Carrasco left with tightness in his right elbow after just three innings. He will be re-evaluated in Cleveland.
"He felt from the beginning he couldn't get loose pretty good and just went out there and said he couldn't get it loose at all," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We kind of sensed some of that because his velocity wasn't where he was in the past. He just couldn't get it loose."
The Indians led 3-2 in the seventh when Alexi Casilla singled and Denard Span reached on Cabrera's error. Jason Repko bunted them up a base and Kubel hit a changeup high off the wall in right-center field for the lead.
"Obviously, they took advantage of the extra out and their big hitters came through," Acta said.
Kubel and Justin Morneau had two hits for the Twins, who took both games of the rain-shortened series. They have won three in a row and five of seven after a miserable 4-10 start.
"We needed some wins, absolutely," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You still try to stay on an even keel as much as you possibly can, figure out what's right and wrong and try to work your way through it."
The Indians stayed in it thanks to Choo's cannon left arm in the third inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Kubel came through with a hard-hit single to right field. Casilla ran right through third-base coach Steve Liddle's stop sign and Choo, who led the league in outfield assists last year, threw him out by 5 feet.
Morneau followed with a two-run double, and Carrasco was again on his heels. Michael Cuddyer then delivered a soft single to shallow right and Liddle first waved Morneau home before putting up a stop sign when Morneau was halfway down the line. Choo's throw easily beat Morneau to the plate to end the inning.
"If he wins a Gold Glove, we'll probably have Steve hand it out," Gardenhire quipped.
Choo nearly had a third assist in the fourth inning, but Thome just beat his throw into second base for a double.
"The good thing is he never gets caught by surprise," Acta said of Choo. "He throws the ball on a line, makes a good throw. Whether people run on him or not he makes the throw, which is to his credit because they're on line and good throws."
Notes: The Indians now head home, where they have won seven in a row for the first time since 2007. They're off Monday and open a series against Kansas City on Tuesday. ... Choo's two assists give him four for the season. ... Indians RHP Vinnie Pestano threw 1 1-3 scoreless innings. He has allowed one run in eight innings this season (1.12 ERA).