MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Indians have hit a new low.
Leaders of the AL Central on June 23, the Indians dropped a 7-2 decision at Minnesota on Monday night for their 11th loss in 15 games, sinking them into a tie with the Twins for last place in the division.
Justin Masterson (11-13) gave up six runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings and the Indians managed just three hits against Samuel Deduno and the rest of the Twins pitching staff. A team that entered the season with playoff aspirations after a promising 2011 is an AL-worst 15-41 since the All-Star break, and it doesn't figure to get better anytime soon.
"No one wants to finish last, but we need to show up every day and play the game," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That's the last thing on the back of your head. You just need to get out there and play again. No one wants to finish last, it's not a secret."
It's also a slide that isn't easy to stop.
After winning the opener of this four-game series against a team that has struggled as much or more for most of the season, the Indians dropped three in a row. They were handcuffed by Deduno in the finale. He struck out seven and gave up three hits in seven innings, and the Twins pulled away with three runs in the seventh and a solo homer by Ryan Doumit in the eighth inning that put the game away.
"I made some good pitches and they got some good swings on them," Masterson said. "A couple balls we just missed. We were making some pretty good pitches the whole game, pounding the zone. They just happened to catch the breaks and had the ball go in the right spot."
Few things have gone right for Cleveland since the break, but it did get a little boost when Lonnie Chisenhall returned to the lineup for the first time since June 29, when he broke his right arm after being hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Jake Arrieta.
Chisenhall hit a solo homer, but that was about it for the Indians against Deduno.
"Right now it's a little hit or miss," Chisenhall said. "I had a few at-bats down with Akron and Columbus, so now I'm trying to see a few pitches and maybe take a strike or two now and then just to see a guy. But the timing is hit or miss, and that's how I feel in the box."
The Indians played without All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who was given the day off after leaving Sunday's game with a sore right wrist. The injury first flared up last week during batting practice. Cabrera had X-rays that showed no broken bones and is day to day.
Carlos Santana's sacrifice fly in the sixth was the only other run for Cleveland (59-82), which dropped to a season-worst 23 games under .500.
"We had a bad August. That's what happened," Masterson said bluntly. "That's why we're at where we're at now."
Joe Mauer had two hits to raise his average to .319 and Justin Morneau added two RBIs for the Twins.
It was a dangerous game for baserunners. Deduno hit Shin-Soo Choo in the helmet with an errant pickoff attempt in the third, a play reminiscent of the one from Boston reliever Franklin Morales in June that knocked Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez out for almost two months. Choo remained in the game.
After his RBI double in the seventh, Florimon was hit in the back of the head on a throw from Masterson while diving back to second base. There was an audible thud from the impact, and the shortstop remained down for a minute while trainers rushed to him. He too remained in the game.
"He said it just hurt in the moment but nothing major to come out of the game," Casilla said.
NOTES: Acta on Cabrera: "We're not going to put him out there until he's ready to play pain-free." ... Masterson's 13 losses tie his career-high for a season, done in 2010. ... Twins OF Chris Parmelee was scratched a few hours before the game with a strained right groin. He is day to day. ... The announced attendance of 27,526 was the lowest in Target Field's two-plus seasons. ... Doumit's 16 HRs this season are a new career high.
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