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Carmona, Durbin hit hard in loss to Twins

April 23, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — When talking with reporters Friday afternoon, Indians manager Manny Acta said he did not think the Twins were on top of their game yet, but he fully expected them to get there at some point this season.

They took a step in that direction Saturday, but Acta still didn’t think they had gotten there yet. The problem was, according to Acta, that the Indians didn’t take advantage of the Twins’ early season struggles in their 10-3 loss at Target Field.

“Right now, a couple of those guys, I don’t feel that they’re still on top of their game, and we were pitching them like they’re in midseason form when they’re hot,” Acta said. “I just felt like we didn’t attack them properly.”

Indians ace Fausto Carmona got the start after being pushed back from Friday due to the inclement weather. The extra day did not work out too well for Carmona.

After three straight strong starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and gave up no more than two runs, Carmona’s outing against the Twins got ugly in the third inning.

Carmona (1-3) went five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with four walks and one strikeout. After holding the Twins hitless through 2 1/3 innings, Carmona surrendered all six runs and seven hits between the third and fifth innings.

According to his manager, Carmona was not aggressive enough with some of the Twins hitters, especially Alexi Casilla and Denard Span, who combined for four singles and five runs scored in the game.

“More aggressive with the guys? No, I think I couldn’t throw the first-pitch strike,” Carmona said. “I think I was aggressive enough. But I missed a lot of first-pitch strikes. My slider was not working today.”

In the third, Carmona allowed four straight hits, beginning with three consecutive singles and capped by a two-run Jason Kubel double.

“He’s just one guy I don’t try to do too much with,” Kubel said of Carmona. “I know that if I try to pull it, it’s an out. So I try to go with it because his ball sinks and runs away. He’s a guy you have to bear down against.”

Two innings later, an intentional walk issued to Kubel came back to hurt Carmona and the Indians.

With one run already on the board in the bottom of the inning, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau followed Kubel with a bases loaded single, plating a pair of runs. In that situation, Acta and the Indians saw Morneau as a clear double-play candidate, especially after the first baseman had missed the Twins’ last five games.

Unfortunately for Carmona, he couldn’t keep the ball down in the zone.

“The Morneau situation, he hadn’t played in a few days with the flu, and getting IVs for four days,” Acta said. “[Carmona]’s a sinker ball pitcher, so that’s a double-play situation, we want a sinker there.

“If I’m in bed for four days, I think I’d rather see an 86-mph changeup than a 92-mph sinker.”

For the Twins, the 10 runs marked a season-high and the first time they had plated six or more runs in their last 28 games, including three playoff contests and dating back to Sept. 27, 2010. Twins lefty Brian Duensing, who also was pushed back from Friday’s game, dealt much better with the extra time off.

Duensing (2-0) tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts. Cleveland’s only run off him came in the fourth when Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and later scored on a Carlos Santana grounder to third.

“I got behind today in a lot of counts and wasn’t throwing first-pitch strikes,” Duensing said. “But I threw a lot of sinkers to try to get them to roll over. I’m not a power guy so that’s what I have to do — just let them get themselves out.”

Right-hander Chad Durbin, who relieved Carmona in the sixth, did not fare too much better than the Indians starter. Durbin was not able to shut down the Twins’ suddenly red-hot bats, giving up two runs on two hits in both the sixth and seventh innings.

With one out in the seventh, a 2-0 fastball to Danny Valencia was crushed for a two-run home run, putting the exclamation point on the Twins’ blowout victory.

“He pitched behind in the count,” Acta said of Durbin, who fell behind six of 11 batters faced over two innings of work. “When you don’t have overpowering stuff, you need to pitch ahead in the count. It’s as simple as it sounds.”

The lone bright spots for the Indians offense came in the fourth and eighth innings. In the fourth, Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Santana. Cleveland had three hits in the inning but could not string them together for more than the one run.

Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore added a two-run home run in the eighth, his second since returning Sunday from the disabled list, off Twins reliever Dusty Hughes. Acta credited Duensing for shutting down the Indians offense.

“He used both sides of the plate and changed speeds to both sides,” Acta said. “He was good, man. He pitched good. Can’t take that away from him, he threw the ball very well. He did that against us last year too.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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