CLEVELAND (AP) — The Minnesota Twins’ bullpen couldn’t finish off the Cleveland Indians.
Reliever Anthony Swarzak gave up Casey Kotchman’s bases-loaded RBI single with one out in the 10th inning in the Indians’ 4-3 comeback victory Thursday.
“Bummer,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That was a bummer at the end there. Neither team did much offensively the whole game, but they got to us a couple of times after we went to the pen.
“This is the time of the year when you want to give guys a chance to pitch in different situations. And sometimes it’s a learning experience for them.”
Shin-Soo Choo led off the inning with a pinch-hit double off Swarzak (3-5), and went to third on Jason Kipnis’s groundout. Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley were both intentionally walked, and Kotchman foiled the strategy by hitting a sharp grounder over second base.
“When you give up a leadoff double in the 10th, you just try and find the right guy to match up with,” Gardenhire said. “We got a ground ball, which we wanted, but unfortunately it went right up the middle. Kotch is a veteran hitter and hit it in the right spot.”
Esmil Rogers (3-1) earned the win with one scoreless inning of relief. Swarzak and Rogers were the fifth pitchers used by the teams tied for fourth place in the AL Central at 62-88.
“The objective is the same every day for us, whether you’re in first place or last: You’re trying to win,” said Kotchman, who went 3 for 5. “Unfortunately, the last month and a half or two months, it hasn’t happened a whole lot for us.”
Minnesota, which won the first two games of the series, took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on Trevor Plouffe’s solo homer . The 414-foot blast to dead center field came off Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, but Plouffe stopped between first and second base because he thought Michael Brantley had caught it.
“It was kind of a low-to-high emotion there for me,” said Plouffe, who has 23 home runs. “I knew I hit it well, but I lost it in the sun, so I thought I didn’t hit it quite so well there for a second.”
Cleveland promptly tied it at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth off reliever Kyle Waldrop, who gave up a run-scoring single to Jack Hannahan. Minnesota right-hander Esmerling Vasquez recorded the first two outs, but was lifted after Kotchman doubled.
“That was disappointing because I thought Vasquez hung in there and battled through it today,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got a good arm and good stuff, and he gave us an opportunity.”
Vasquez went 5 2-3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He walked three and did not record a strikeout in equaling his longest start in the big leagues.
“I felt good, much better than the last couple times I pitched,” Vasquez said. “I made some good pitches.”
Plouffe and shortstop Pedro Florimon had two hits for the Twins, while center fielder Denard Span had an RBI double in the fifth.
Minnesota’s other run came in the fourth when right fielder Ben Revere scored on a wild pitch. Revere led off the inning and stole second base to move into scoring position.
Kluber allowed three runs in six innings. He struck out five and walked one, but still is without a decision in three starts against Minnesota, posting a 4.59 ERA in 15 2-3 innings.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who entered the game third in the AL batting race, went 0 for 4 and dropped his average to .321.
Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau was given the day off, but pinch hit in the ninth and was hit by a Chris Perez pitch. He finished the 18-game season series with six homers and 20 RBI against the Indians.
NOTES: Twins 1B Justin Morneau, who has six homers and 20 RBIs against Cleveland this season, wasn’t in the lineup, but pinch hit in the ninth and was hit by a pitch. … The Twins begin a three-game series in Detroit on Friday. Samuel Deduno faces Rick Porcello in a battle of right-handers. … Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t start after re-injuring his right wrist Wednesday night. Acta thinks Cabrera will be able to take batting practice Friday. … DH Travis Hafner also got the day off. … On Friday night, Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson will start against Kansas City RHP Luis Mendoza in the series open. … Former Notre Dame football player and motivational speaker Rudy Ruettiger threw out the first pitch.