CLEVELAND -- During the first four games of their current road trip, the Twins made a habit of putting together big innings late in ballgames. So even though the club was trailing by four runs heading into the seventh inning against the Indians on Monday night, there was a good feeling in the dugout after the first two batters reached base. It was an optimistic notion that would last for all of three pitches. That's how many it took for Mike Redmond to ground into a triple play and end the threat in what turned into an 8-3 loss at Jacobs Field.
"That triple play kind of deflated us," Torii Hunter said. "It's the way our luck was going tonight." The Twins had struggled to get to Indians starter Paul Byrd early in the outing, but that changed over his final few innings, having scored two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth off the Cleveland pitcher. It appeared that the Twins had him on the ropes in the seventh, when Michael Cuddyer led off with a double and Byrd then walked Jason Kubel to put runners at first and second. Redmond then came to the plate, having driven in the club's first run of the night on a single to right in the fifth inning. Rather than let Byrd (13-5) face Redmond again, Indians manager Eric Wedge replaced him with left-hander Rafael Perez. It seemed an odd choice to pit against the right-handed Redmond. And even more confusing was the club's decision to have third baseman Casey Blake playing on the third-base line, considering Redmond is not a typical pull hitter. Yet there was Redmond, swinging at an 0-2 pitch from Perez and hitting it right down the third-base line -- and right to Blake. What had looked to be another threat by the Twins turned into a textbook 5-4-3 triple play. "At first, I was wondering why he was playing there on the line," Cuddyer said. "I can probably count on one hand how many times Redmond has pulled the ball down the third-base line, maybe even on three fingers. But after that, it was like, 'Oh, geez.'" The unsucessful rally wasn't completely to blame for the loss, since it came after the club found itself in an early hole. Carlos Silva had been one of the hottest starters for the Twins this month, having allowed just five earned runs in four August starts. But Silva would match that number -- and exceed it -- on this night, giving up seven runs, six earned, over 3 2/3 innings. It was the shortest outing for Silva since July 7, 2006, at Texas, where he lasted just 1 2/3 innings. Silva (10-13) found trouble right from the start of his outing on Monday. A leadoff walk to Grady Sizemore would turn into a run later in the inning, courtesy of a Jhonny Peralta sacrifice fly. Silva's problems weren't really about his stuff -- his sinker was working well early, helping him to a quick 1-2-3 second inning. But Silva had problems hitting his spots, especially late in his outing. Victor Martinez belted a two-out, two-run homer in the third to make it a 3-0 game. The Indians then tallied four runs off the pitcher in the fourth, and Silva was replaced by Julio DePaula with two outs in the inning after throwing 77 pitches. "In the situation we are in right now, the only thing you want to do is help the team out," Silva said. "It's when you are looking to have a strong outing in there and keep the winning streak going." The Twins saw their five-game winning streak snapped in the loss and they fell to 6 1/2 games behind the Indians in the American League Central. "Obviously, it would have been great to come in and sweep them, but what we wanted to do was come in and win the series," Cuddyer said. "We still have a chance at that. So that's what we have to look at and focus on for tomorrow." More importantly, the Twins need to get their starting pitching back on track. The starters haven't been able to go further than six innings in each of the last three games, and it's starting to take a toll. "Our bullpen is just beat to heck," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We all rely on our starters around here. It just didn't work out for us. But we can't keep going to our bullpen and expect it to hold up." The bullpen wasn't the only thing beat up in the outing. In addition to hitting into the triple play, Redmond also irritated the knuckle on his left middle finger before his RBI single in the fifth. It's a problem that has plagued him for nearly six weeks. But with Joe Mauer unavailable due to a sore left hamstring, Redmond is being counted on as the starting catcher. Gardenhire said he will take Redmond's status as day-to-day, but Redmond is already penciling himself into the lineup. "It is what it is," Redmond said of the injury. "But these games are big and I'm going to be out there tomorrow."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.