Chen can't escape enough jams vs. Twins

Lefty disappointed with return to Majors

Chen can't escape enough jams vs. Twins

CLEVELAND -- For one batter on Saturday, Bruce Chen's return to the big league stage with the Indians had that fairytale feel. The veteran Ieft-hander froze Twins second baseman Brian Dozier with a fastball for a strikeout to begin the first inning, eliciting cheers from a Cleveland crowd starved for a winning streak.

The warm feeling inside Progressive Field quickly wore off.

Minnesota's Torii Hunter followed Chen's game-opening strikeout with a home run to left field, bringing a hush over the stadium and setting the tone for a 7-4 loss for the Indians. What began as a special day for Chen -- pitching for his 11th team in his 17th Major League season -- ended with another discouraging defeat for the Tribe.

"I prepared myself well and I really wanted to help this team win," Chen said. "I feel bad, because I feel like the team was counting on me on delivering a good outing. I tried to do everything I could, but I feel bad because I didn't pitch well."

Cleveland, which dropped to an American League-worst 10-19 on the season, promoted the 37-year-old Chen from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game to fill in as its fifth starter. The need arose for an extra arm when struggling lefty TJ House was placed on the disabled list last week with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. In Chen, the Indians had an experienced veteran pitching well (1.74 ERA in five starts) in the Minors.

Hunter's home run -- his second in as many games against the Indians -- was only the beginning of a rough afternoon for Chen. In the third inning, Chen gave up a double to Dozier and then a single to Hunter, but then beared down with back-to-back strikeouts. The starter could not complete the escape act against the Twins, who churned out three straight RBI singles to push to a 4-0 lead.

Chen was charged with six runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings of work.

"He's a veteran, man," said Nick Swisher, who had four hits in the loss. "He's been in the game for a while. He knows what he's doing. Tonight, he might've been up in the zone a little bit more than he has been in the past, but this is his first start in the big leagues since last year. ... He's a great man. He's a great competitor. And he's walking around here with his chin up. That's what leaders do.

"You get beat down on, but you're still going to come back to the ballpark tomorrow and be ready for a good fight."

Chen said he had not been informed yet if he will get another turn as Cleveland's fifth starter.

"They haven't said anything," Chen said. "I'm just going to continue working hard and hopefully I can keep helping this team win."

Chen signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the offseason after posting a 7.45 ERA in 13 games last year with Kansas City, which released him in September. Chen battled back issues last year, but wanted to aim for another season in the Majors. His start for the Tribe marked the 399th game of his career and he remains tied with Yankees great Mariano Rivera for the most wins (82) by a Panama-born pitcher.

Chen just did not have it against the Twins.

"A lot of hits," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's going to pitch to contact. That's just looking for deception and changes of speeds and hitting his spots. ... With Bruce, he needs to be pretty accurate in his command."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.