Twins sunk by Tribe on walk-off homer
Casilla's hit for naught after Guerrier allows game-winner
CLEVELAND -- Alexi Casilla did what Jim Thome couldn't. Not that it mattered in the end.
Casilla delivered a game-tying two-run single in the top of the ninth inning on Friday, only for Matt Guerrier to serve up a walk-off home run to Matt LaPorta on the second pitch of the bottom of the frame, sending the Twins to a 7-6 loss against the Indians at Progressive Field.
Casilla's hit followed a blast from Thome that nearly tied the game at 6. After J.J. Hardy reached on an infield single to begin the ninth, Thome swatted a 2-2 fastball from Chris Perez for a double that appeared to clear the left-field wall.
First-base umpire and crew chief Gerry Davis reviewed the play but did not overturn it, much to the dismay of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected following a heated protest.
"Did you see it in [high-definition]?" Gardenhire asked reporters after the game. "It was a home run. HD showed it plain as day.
"I don't know how they didn't see the angles that we saw."
Said Davis: "First of all, third-base umpire Greg Gibson went out on the ball and ruled that it hit the yellow pad on top of the wall. When we got together, the other two guys had it hitting the pad as well. We went in to check, and from what we saw, it hit the pad.
"There was nothing that was clear and concise that would cause us to overturn the call that was made on the field."
"The way the ball bounced back, I thought for certain it was a home run," Thome said. "With replay, I don't know how they didn't see that.
"You never know what the outcome might have been."
Initially, the outcome did not look promising for the Twins. The Indians wasted little time gracing the scoreboard against Francisco Liriano, who entered Friday riding a stretch of 21 consecutive shutout innings.
Shelley Duncan stroked a one-out, two-run double to right field in the first, plating Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo. Trevor Crowe followed with a fielder's-choice ground ball to shortstop Hardy that scored Duncan.
Suddenly, Liriano's scoreless streak seemed like a distant memory.
"It was just one of those days," Liriano said.
His inning-opening walk to Lou Marson in the second proved costly. After a Brantley knock, Asdrubal Cabrera delivered Marson with a single that hiked Cleveland's advantage to 4-0.
Liriano yielded four runs on seven hits and six walks with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of work. He threw 109 pitches, 61 for strikes.
"Frankie was misfiring," Gardenhire said. "He was close to getting where he wanted to be, but he never quite got there."
Said Liriano: "I couldn't feel comfortable on the mound. I tried to battle through it and keep us in the game, but I couldn't find myself."
The Twins found their way on the board in the third, thanks to an unconventional one-out sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer. Left fielder Crowe caught the ball and unleashed a throw home that hit the right leg of Drew Butera, who nonetheless crossed the plate with Minnesota's first run.
The Indians tacked on an insurance run in the sixth off Anthony Slama. With one out, Choo doubled home Brantley, who reached via a leadoff walk.
Minnesota pulled within a 5-3 deficit in the seventh, courtesy of Casilla. Danny Valencia opened the inning with a single off Justin Germano and advanced to second base after Butera reached on a fielding error by third baseman Jayson Nix. Rafael Perez relieved Germano and fanned Denard Span, but Casilla lofted Perez's 3-2 slider into the left-field corner for a two-out, two-run double.
"We battled pretty hard all night," Gardenhire said. "We kept getting closer and closer."
They got even closer when Jason Kubel trimmed Cleveland's advantage to 5-4 in the eighth, clubbing a one-out solo home run to right off Joe Smith. The Tribe regained its two-run lead in the bottom of the inning, when Choo's one-out ground-rule double to right against Jose Mijares scored Cabrera.
When Casilla's knock evened the score in the ninth, Gardenhire was no longer in the dugout.
"It looked nice from the clubhouse," Gardenhire said.
Naturally, he could not help but fixate on Thome's double.
"I feel bad for Thome," Gardenhire said. "He would have ended up scoring anyway, but it should have been tied with no outs. It just didn't work out."
For Thome, the reason it didn't work out -- an apparently incorrect call by an umpiring crew that had the benefit of instant replay -- pained him most.
"Our guys battled," Thome said. "That's the disappointing thing. It's just unfortunate that that had to happen."
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.