Things turn quickly for Huff, Tribe in fifth
LaPorta's two-run shot helps build early four-run edge
CLEVELAND -- After a 4-0 lead quickly disappeared Sunday afternoon, Indians manager Manny Acta summed up what the 17,427 fans at Progressive Field were probably thinking."It was kind of deflating," Acta said. Deflating, indeed. Matt LaPorta's two-run homer was the big hit in a three-run first inning. The Indians added a run in the second and David Huff took a shutout into the fifth, having faced only 14 batters. As quickly as it took someone to make a run to the concession stand, Huff's mastery, the lead and ultimately the game were gone. The Twins scored five times in the fifth and the Indians never recovered in dropping the finale of the three-game series.
While the Indians seemed to be in a good position heading into the fifth, Acta was concerned. He felt Huff was having problems commanding his fastball and wasn't throwing enough first-pitch strikes."I felt even in the first four innings he was getting away with a lot," Acta said. "You can only do that for so long." Huff walked Michael Cuddyer to lead off the fifth and then gave up a two-run homer to Jim Thome. After J.J. Hardy singled and Jason Repko doubled to put runners at second and third, Orlando Hudson's single to center tied the game. Huff was pulled after walking Joe Mauer. Justin Germano faced Delmon Young and induced what could have been a double-play ground ball to third baseman Andy Marte. However, Marte couldn't field the ball cleanly and was only able to get Mauer at second as Hudson scored from third. Falling to 2-11, Huff allowed five runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings. "We felt like if he could have gone at least five, our bullpen has been very steady of late," Acta said. "I felt like we gave him enough for at least five innings, but he couldn't get it done." Acta said Huff threw less than 50 percent first-pitch strikes. "That's not going to get it done," Acta said. "That's why you don't see bloops or anything like that. They hit him hard." Huff wasn't completely onboard with his manager's assessment. "My first-pitch strike percentage was right there the first four innings," Huff said. "I was throwing my breaking ball for strikes. I was keeping them honest with my changeup. Huff hasn't won since May 23, when he defeated Cincinnati. Since a complete-game victory over Texas on April 15, he is 1-10 with a 7.24 ERA. Huff was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on June 21. He was 6-0 with a 3.80 ERA in seven starts with the Clippers and was recalled on Aug. 3. Asked if he could pinpoint why Huff has struggled, Acta said, "Whatever the reason is, it hasn't been good." The Indians jumped on Brian Duensing in the first. Leadoff hitter Michael Brantley got the rally going by lining a hit down the right-field line. When the ball bounced around in the corner, he ended up at third with a triple. After a groundout, Shin-Soo Choo lined a single up the middle for a 1-0 lead. LaPorta hit a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers for his sixth home run of the season. The Indians scored a run in the second, but missed an opportunity to add more. After Trevor Crowe, who had three hits along with LaPorta, singled, Jason Donald laid down a perfect bunt that got past the mound. Hudson fielded the ball, but made a poor flip to first that got away and allowed Crowe to take third. Lou Marson hit into a double play that scored Crowe.
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.