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Reversal unfortunate for Tribe in loss to Twins

April 24, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — When left fielder Michael Brantley crushed a slider deep to right in the fourth inning, it initially looked like he had a three-run home run.

As it hit off the top of the limestone in right field, the umpires signaled home run, and Brantley trotted around the bases and back to the Indians dugout. But the Twins thought otherwise, and after talking to manager Ron Gardenhire, the umpires reviewed the play.

That proved to be the difference in the Indians’ 4-3 loss Sunday to the Twins at Target Field. Some persuasion from Gardenhire may have helped convince the umpires to take a second look.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to see a lot of balls like that, but I know the ball has to go off the top of the wall. We kind of decided that when we went over the ground rules,” Gardenhire said. “It looked like it hit on the corner to me, bouncing back.

“The only way it could do that [and be a home run] is if it ricochets off the [steel] fence. So in my opinion, it went off the corner, and that’s what I tried to explain to the umpires.”

Instead of Brantley’s first homer of the season, it turned out to be a two-run double. But the Indians weren’t complaining about it afterward.

“They made the right call,” Brantley said. I watched the replay two innings later. It definitely wasn’t a home run. It hit the corner of the wall and came back. A little unlucky for us, but that’s the way the game goes.”

After the official review, the Indians’ rally was halted as Brantley was sent back to second. Cleveland appeared to have Twins starter Carl Pavano on the ropes, but the review gave the right-hander time to collect himself and get out of the inning.

Pavano walked the next batter, Lou Marson, before retiring the next two to end the inning. Over the next three innings, Pavano retired nine of 10 batters he faced.

“I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t know if I gave up three runs or four runs and that I had to wait out there for like five minutes,” Pavano said. “So I threw for a little bit. But it saved us a run and we ended up getting a win, so it’s even better.”

“You get a little bit of do-over right there so you want to make good by it. But the guys made some good plays out there and I made some good pitches to get out of it.”

While they agreed with the call that it was not a home run, the Indians disputed the decision to put Brantley at second.

In their opinion, based on Brantley’s speed, he should have been awarded third base.

“Every rule has its loophole,” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “Is it a double? Is it a triple? You could rule it a triple with Michael running, but Michael couldn’t run hard because as soon as he stepped on first base he had three umpires in front of him signaling a home run.

“We wanted replay, we have it, it gets a correct call 99 out of 100 times, I guess. But it has its loophole that somehow, someway, still keeps the human element into it because the umpires have to make a judgment.”

Had the umpires put Brantley on third base, the Indians would have been able to drive him in with either a ground out or a fly out. And two batters later, third baseman Jack Hannahan flew out to right field for the second out of the inning.

While it’s hard to say what would have happened with Brantley on third base instead of second, the chances of his teammates driving him in certainly would have been higher.

The Indians would not score again, however, and it was left to the bullpen to hold the lead. But with right-hander Carlos Carrasco leaving after just three innings with right elbow tightness, that was no easy task.

Carrasco started to feel the tightness during his warm up in the bullpen, and when it got worse in the third inning, he approached Acta and the Indians brought him out of the game. The tightness affected Carrasco most on the fastball.

“Last time, against Kansas City, I threw 94 to 96, and today I threw 88 to 91,” Carrasco said. “Today it felt a little bit more tight in this spot right here, so I couldn’t throw the fastball.”

Carrasco allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout. After holding the Twins to just one hit over the first two frames, Carrasco got hit hard in the third, putting the Indians in an early 2-0 hole.

Fortunately for Carrasco, a pair of Twins runners were out at the plate on throws by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and it allowed the right-hander to escape the inning with minimal damage.

Choo retired Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla for the second out of the inning, after Casilla ran through a stop sign from third-base coach Steve Liddle. Two batters later, after first baseman Justin Morneau had driven in a pair of runs with a double to deep center, Morneau was Choo’s next victim at the plate on another single to right.

After he had already retired Casilla earlier in the inning, Choo said he was surprised to see Morneau take a shot at scoring on him.

“If he wins a Gold Glove, we’ll probably have Steve hand it out,” Gardenhire joked.

Jeanmar Gomez pitched in relief, as he had become available with his next start pushed back to Saturday by the rainout Friday and Monday’s off-day. Gomez pitched three innings, impressing Acta as he gave up one run on three hits and one walk with a strikeout.

After giving up a leadoff single in the seventh, Gomez was taken out in favor of Rafael Perez, but the lefty could not get the Indians out of the inning.

With one out, Perez surrendered a long double to right field off the bat of Jason Kubel that plated two runs to give the Twins a 4-3 lead they would not give back. The loss marked the first time this season the Indians had lost three in a row, sending them back home with a disappointing 2-4 mark on the road trip.

“We’ve got to get back home and start winning some games, that’s all it means,” Acta said. “We all know that everybody’s going to win 60 and lose 60. It’s what you do with the other 42 that counts. It’s a long season, we’ve just got to keep on playing.”

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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