By Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon Journal –
MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Indians made it easy on their fans, who had only one thing to watch Saturday night.
It appeared that Indians batsmen were just passing through on the way to another engagement, so little impact did they have on the game. In losing to the Twins, 3-0, at Target Field, they managed to accumulate only four singles, one of which never left the infield.
Inasmuch as the Indians had only five base runners, it was something of an accomplishment to ground into two double plays, but they managed to do it. To his credit, Shin-Soo Choo delivered two singles, 50 percent of the team’s total output.
To sum up, the fans viewing the game on their wide screens had nothing to watch when the Indians came to the plate.
But there was plenty of pitching to see, especially by Zach McAllister.
How well did starter McAllister perform? Let’s put it this way: At the rate he was piling up pitches, if he had thrown a complete game, he would have needed 261.
As it was, McAllister got in plenty of practice, throwing 87 pitches in only three innings. That sounds like he gave up a ton of runs, but he only allowed two. So if there were a prize for the pitcher who threw the most pitches per inning and gave up the fewest runs, McAllister would be a candidate. Not that the Indians are buying him a trophy.
Things were fine for two innings, though McAllister walked two batters in the first. But the third inning got a little messy. Ben Revere singled with one out and McAllister hit Jamey Carroll.
After a double steal put runners on second and third, Joe Mauer singled to score one run, leaving runners on first and third. Josh Willingham drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly, but McAllister kept throwing pitches, walking Justin Morneau before inducing Ryan Doumit to fly to center.
It’s not surprising that a novice starter would go through tough times, particularly nearing the end of his first full major-league season.
In his past three starts, McAllister has given up 14 runs in 12 1/3 innings, and he hasn’t exactly been efficient in doing so, throwing 285 pitches, including 110 in his outing against the Athletics on Aug. 27, when he lasted 4 1/3 innings.
If there was a benefit to McAllister’s brief start against the Twins, it was allowing manager Manny Acta to watch several members of his 11-man bullpen audition for next season.
That included Scott Maine, who was called up from Columbus five days ago but hadn’t gotten into a game. Maine throws hard for a left-handed sidearmer, revving up his fastball to 93 miles per hour at times.
He was not given an easy task Saturday night, coming into the game with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning. The first batter he faced was no patsy, either: Morneau. Then again, what did it matter? Maine walked him to force in a run. But he retired the next two batters, one on a strikeout.
Manager Manny Acta used five pitchers out of the bullpen and most of them got the job done. Chris Seddon was an exception, but he’s really a starter. Seddon relieved McAllister and worked 1 1/3 innings, giving up one run, three hits and a walk.
Making cameo appearances of one inning or less were Frank Herrmann, Tony Sipp (who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 30) and Scott Barnes, who gave up two hits to start the eighth but escaped without giving up a run.