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Ineffective Indians drop opener to Twins

Ineffective Indians drop opener to Twins

CLEVELAND -- The only thing less effective than David Huff and Jensen Lewis on the mound on Tuesday night was their Indians teammates' offensive approach against Twins starter Scott Baker.

Combine those two ingredients, and you had the recipe for the Tribe's 10-1 trouncing at the hands of the Twins. It was a dud of a loss in front of a tiny crowd in the series opener at Progressive Field.

Maybe the Twins were just the hungrier team after getting swept at home by the Angels over the weekend. Or maybe games like this are to be expected from a Tribe club that has traded six players from its Opening Day roster, including a Cy Young winner and a three-time All-Star.

Either way, it was one of those games in which you didn't have to look at the standings to know which team was in the hunt and which is down for the count.

Huff lasted just 4 2/3 innings, and he needed 94 pitches to get through them. He gave up a Jason Kubel solo shot in the second and a Carlos Gomez RBI single later in the inning to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. He got out of jams in the third and fourth, but ran his pitch count up as a consequence. And in the fifth, when Huff gave up consecutive RBI doubles to Orlando Cabrera and Joe Mauer, an RBI single to Justin Morneau and had two on with two out, he was yanked.

"I didn't do my job," Huff said. "I need to be more efficient with my pitches. I'll learn what I can from this and go from there."

Huff is one of the youngsters the Indians hope will one day be a prime part of their rotation. For now, Huff's rookie year has seen him struggle to be efficient and keep runners off the basepaths. He's allowed at least three earned runs in each of his past seven starts, and he's given up at least five earned runs in four of those seven.

It's a stretch the highly touted Huff never went through in the Minors.

"It wouldn't be three, four or five [rough starts in a row in the Minors]," he said. "It would be one, then I'd figure it out and come back the next time. It happens. It's a learning process."

The Indians have had to be patient with the process, because their rotation options for much of this season have been slim. But that's soon to change.

Before Tuesday's game, manager Eric Wedge announced that Justin Masterson could be moved into the rotation as soon as next week. Also on Tuesday, Jake Westbrook began his second rehab assignment in his return from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Changes are coming to the Tribe's rotation, and Huff's recent troubles make him a possible candidate to get bumped.

Huff, though, wasn't the only one who struggled against the Twins in this one.

When Huff was pulled in the fifth, in came Jensen Lewis, making his second appearance since his recall from his dose of fine-tuning at Triple-A Columbus.

Lewis pitched well with an 11-1 lead Sunday, but this time he gave up a three-run homer to Gomez on the first pitch he threw to make it 8-0. Lewis also gave up an RBI double to Morneau in the sixth.

"The pitch to Gomez looked like a cutter left out over the middle," Wedge said. "It didn't have a whole lot on it."

Neither did Baker's fastball. But the Tribe bats nonetheless had trouble with the right-hander, who tossed seven scoreless innings in which he allowed just three hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

"We had so many missed foul balls, missed swings," right fielder Shin-Soo Choo said. "[Baker] is sneaky. He throws his fastball 88-90 [mph], but it looks like 94. We couldn't hit his fastball tonight."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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