Indians Use Big Fifth, Hold Off Twins Late, to Avoid Sweep; Indians 6, Twins 5
Bob Toth | On 28, Apr 2016
The Indians used two runs in the third and four runs in the fifth to come back from an early 3-0 deficit and Cody Allen stranded the tying run at second base in the ninth as Cleveland avoided a sweep in Minnesota with a 6-5 victory over the Twins.
Clinging to a one-run lead, the Indians saw the Twins load the bases and leave them that way and again threatened in the ninth off of closer Allen. Just one night after giving up the game-winner to Miguel Sano for the Twins’ second straight walk-off victory, Allen struck out Eddie Rosario before Danny Santana singled and stole second. Brian Dozier struck out for the second out and after a nine-pitch battle, Allen got Joe Mauer to fly out to center to end it.
The Indians improved to 10-9 with the win and salvaged the series in Minnesota after dropping the first two. The Twins fall to 7-15 with the loss.
“I knew he had pitched a lot but he really wanted to get back out there,” said Indians manager Terry Francona in the postgame interview about Allen’s recent workload. “That was some series, some game. It was like one play can change each one of the games we played.”
“It’s another close ball game, coming down to the last pitch again,” said Michael Brantley in a postgame interview, “but we came out on top this time…We gotta salvage the series. They still win the series but we got a game.”
The Twins scored first in the first as Minnesota jumped on Tomlin quickly. Santana doubled to right to start up the Twins offense. After Dozier grounded out, Mauer drew a five-pitch walk. Sano made Tomlin pay for the move by smashing a ground rule double to deep center, scoring Santana to give the Twins the lead. Byung-Ho Park followed with a sacrifice fly to score Mauer and Oswaldo Arcia jumped on his first pitch for an RBI-single to right to make it 3-0. Arcia would move to third on a throwing error from Tomlin, but would be stranded there with plenty of damage already done.
The Indians began to chip away at the Twins lead in the third. Tyler Naquin walked and moved to third on a single to right by Carlos Santana. After Jason Kipnis struck out (one of four on the night), Francisco Lindor doubled to left-center to score a pair. Berrios would retire all three outs in the inning on strikeouts.
After going down somewhat quietly in the fourth, the Indians erupted for a four-spot in the fifth to take their first lead of the night. Naquin singled to left and moved to second on a walk from Santana. Kipnis doubled down near the right field corner to score Naquin and ended the night of the rookie Berrios. Fernando Abad relieved but could not stop the Indians’ onslaught as Lindor reached out and dug out a 1-2 pitch shoe high and outside and grounded it to second to score Santana to give Cleveland the lead. With Kipnis standing at third, Brantley worked a ten-pitch at bat before lifting a fly to left. Rosario attempted to circle under it but misplayed the ball, allowing the run to score and Brantley to get to second base. He stole third before Mike Napoli drove him home with a single to center to give the Tribe a 6-3 lead.
Now trailing, the Twins responded with a run in the bottom half. Kurt Suzuki singled but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Rosario. Rosario moved to third on an error by Tomlin, his second of the night, and scored on a single to right from Minnesota’s Santana to make it 6-4.
Park made it a one-run game and ended Tomlin’s night with one out in the sixth, mashing the first pitch he saw from the Tribe starter off of the batter’s eye in straightaway center field for his fifth home run of the season.
Zach McAllister, pitching in his second inning of relief, got into trouble in the seventh but did a tight-rope walk after giving up back-to-back two out walks to load the bases with Park coming to the plate. McAllister reared back and fired a letter-high fastball past the South Korean import, who swung and missed, to a fist pump on the mound from the Indians fired-up reliever. Bryan Shaw worked a scoreless eighth, striking out a pair.
“Sometimes they’re going to give up runs,” said Francona of his bullpen arms. “That was a lot of tough innings they pitched and they did a really good job. When they hit that last solo, down 6-5, there’s no breathing room. Those are tough innings to pitch.”
TOMLIN A SHORT OUTING
Tomlin (3-0) exited after two batters in the sixth inning after the home run from Park. He allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits while walking one and striking out one. As was the case for him more often than not last season, the home run he allowed was a solo shot. He threw just 65 pitches on the night, 44 of which were for strikes.
INDIANS RAIN ON BERRIOS’ PARADE
The Indians spoiled the Major League debut of Berrios (0-1) by putting up five runs after he was staked to a 3-0 lead. He was charged with all five runs and allowed them on six hits and two walks while striking out five batters.
With a team-high three hits on the night, part-time Indians leadoff hitter Santana improved to 8-for-22 (.364) in the top spot of the lineup card with four doubles, one homer, and three RBI. He also drew his first walk of the season out of the leadoff spot and picked off a base.
FINALLY, AN UNEARNED RUN
The Twins’ run scored in the fifth inning was unearned. It was the first unearned run allowed by Indians pitchers this season. They were the last MLB team to allow an unearned run and it is the longest streak by Cleveland to open a season since at least 1913.
BRANTLEY’S FIRST HIT
Brantley knocked in his first run of the season with a botched sacrifice fly in the fifth and later stole his first base of the season. In the eighth against lefty reliever Casey Fien, he singled the other way for his first hit of the year.
“That was some kind of at bat,” said Francona. “Abad has not given up a run yet, I know technically he still hasn’t. But that was a pretty good at bat. We’ve seen that from Brantley so many times. He’s not going to get beat; he’s not going to get beat the wrong way. That was good for him probably to see a lefty.”
With his single to lead off the fifth inning, Naquin extended his career-best hitting streak to eight straight.
With his first inning walk, Mauer extended his season-opening streak to 22 consecutive games reaching base safely.
“It’s not a good feeling when Mauer’s up knowing that a base hit can tie it,” said Francona. “He’s such a good hitter. He puts the ball in play. Cody made some really good pitches.”
The Indians recalled left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game. He struck out the only batter he faced in the sixth.
He takes the roster spot of starting pitcher Cody Anderson, who was optioned to the Clippers after three straight difficult starts on the mound.
Lindor and Berrios grew up roughly 40 minutes apart in Puerto Rico. According to Lindor prior to Wednesday’s game, the two have known each other since they were six years old. Berrios, 21, was born in Bayamon while Lindor, 22, was born in Caguas.
WEATHER DELAYS AGAIN
First pitch in Wednesday’s game was delayed by 35 minutes due to rain.
The Indians will take Thursday off as they head to Philadelphia to begin a three-game interleague series against the Phillies. Corey Kluber is scheduled to start the opener from Citizens Bank Field on Friday night. The Twins will enjoy Thursday off as well before welcoming in the Detroit Tigers for a weekend set.
Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone