Cleveland's recently high-powered offense cooled off considerably in a 4-2 loss to Mike Pelfrey and the Twins on Sunday in the finale of a three-game set at Progressive Field. The Tribe wore their dark blue jerseys throughout a six-game winning streak -- one that included a historic offensive stretch -- but luck has a tendency to eventually run dry.
"We had a good run in these blue jerseys," Indians first baseman Mark Reynolds said.
The six-game winning streak for the Indians was the club's longest string of victories since it reeled off seven in a row early in the 2011 season. Cleveland scored at least six runs and had at least 12 hits in each of the six wins, representing the longest run of its kind for the franchise since June 1935.
The Cleveland Lumber Company was closed on Sunday.
Starter Corey Kluber turned in a decent outing for the Tribe (three runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings), but the recent surplus of run support simply was not present. That was thanks to Pelfrey, who featured a fastball that hit 96 mph and expanded the strike zone by taking control of the inside part of the plate.
"Sometimes it's just not your day," Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher said. "We really just couldn't get anything going. Then again, hats off to Pelfrey. I think that's the best game he's pitched this year. He was reaching 95-96 mph. I haven't seen that all year. Good job for him. For us, we've got to forget about today and get ready for tomorrow."
The Twins broke through in the second inning, when Trevor Plouffe lifted a 2-2 curveball from Kluber deep to left field for a two-run home run to put the Tribe behind, 2-0. From there, Kluber settled in, allowing just one hit to the next 12 batters he faced.
The Twins pieced together their second rally against the Cleveland right-hander in the sixth. Jamey Carroll led off with a single to right field, and Kluber followed with consecutive walks to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to load the bases with no outs.
Justin Morneau then pulled a pitch through the hole between first and second base and into right field for a run-scoring single, giving the Twins a 3-1 advantage. Willingham ran too far past second on the play, though, and got caught in no-man's land. That initiated a run-down, which ended with Willingham being easily tagged out at third base.
Kluber struck out Chris Parmelee for the inning's second out, and Indians reliever Cody Allen -- after walking Plouffe to again load the bases -- ended the sixth with a strikeout of Oswaldo Arcia.
"I just missed with a lot of pitches," Kluber said. "The result was four walks and three runs. It could've been a lot worse with four walks."
It was a solid effort from Kluber (2-1), who limited the damage of the walks he issued and the five hits he allowed. Over the past seven games, Cleveland's starting rotation has more than done its part, going 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA. That, combined with the wealth of scoring of late, has been a good sign for a ballclub that lost 13 of 19 games prior to the six-game winning streak.
"It's [been] something different every night," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think when you're going through good periods, if your starting pitching gives you a chance every night, you don't necessarily have to reel off a bunch of wins to feel good about your team. But I think we've done a lot of things. We've picked each other up.
"There's been times when maybe we haven't got a runner over, but then the next hitter gets a base hit. We've extended innings, for the most part, and we've taken advantage of that. You put yourself in a position to win. That's the best thing you can do. You're not always going to win, but if you give yourself a chance, more often than not, you'll be OK."
The Indians were in a good position to swing the game's momentum late.
Cleveland's lone run against Pelfrey (six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk) came in the fourth inning, when Asdrubal Cabrera got things started with a leadoff double. Later in the frame, Cabrera stole third base with Reynolds at the plate. Reynolds then drilled a pitch to center field, deep enough to score Cabrera with a sacrifice fly.
With two out in the ninth inning, Indians catcher Carlos Santana tried to ignite a late push by sending a 1-0 pitch from Twins closer Glen Perkins into the left-field seats for a solo home run. Ryan Raburn followed with a single to right field, but Perkins recovered, striking out pinch-hitter Mike Aviles to end the game.
"We had a chance in the ninth," Reynolds said. "It's tough, Aviles coming off the bench like that cold and trying to get a hit against the closer. That's a tough spot. He battled and put a good at-bat together. That's the way it goes. We're not going to win them all."
The Indians won't always don the blue jerseys, either.
"I'm sure the clubbies are sick of washing them every night," Reynolds said.