Twins End Skid at Eight on Ervin Santana’s Strong Start; Twins 6, Indians 3
Bob Toth | On 14, May 2016
The Minnesota Twins found power in an unlikely source and used a rare strong start by Ervin Santana in Cleveland to shut down the Indians lineup on Saturday afternoon, 6-3.
After a relatively quiet first three innings, both offenses woke up some in the middle frames. Cleveland starter Corey Kluber worked through four fairly easy innings, giving up a first inning single, another in the third after a walk, and another free pass in the fourth, but no damage was done. The Indians wasted opportunities against Twins starter Santana, who used double play balls in the first and third innings to erase any scoring chances for Cleveland.
In the fourth, the Indians got their first and only lead of the afternoon on some two-out clutch hitting. Mike Napoli doubled to deep center and scored on a shallow single to left from Jose Ramirez to make it 1-0 Tribe. But the Twins responded right back, using the first two batters of the next half inning to jump on top for good. An Eddie Rosario single to lead off the frame was followed by the first career home run of Juan Centeno, who just cleared the wall in right field to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Minnesota added to that lead with a run in the sixth after loading the bases with one out. Trevor Plouffe singled in front of Rajai Davis, who slipped trying to get to the routine fly. Byung-ho Park singled and after a brief umpire delay, Kluber plunked Brian Dozier to load the bases. Rosario grounded to Francisco Lindor at short, but the combination of the weak hit and the speedy hitter allowed Plouffe to score on the fielder’s choice, making it a 3-1 lead for the Twins.
Kluber continued into the seventh and gave up a leadoff double to Danny Santana. He moved to third on a groundout by Joe Mauer and scored on a sacrifice fly to Marlon Byrd in right field from Eduardo Nunez, giving the Twins a three-run lead.
Lindor would single home Tyler Naquin in the eighth to make it 4-2 after he walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a two-out walk from Jason Kipnis. But as was the case each time the Indians plated a run on the day, the Twins responded with some of their own. Against reliever Kyle Crockett in the ninth, Centeno doubled and scored on a Danny Santana single that followed. Santana would later score on a single to center by Miguel Sano off of reliever Dan Otero to give the Twins a commanding 6-2 lead.
Yan Gomes hit a solo homer to left in the ninth with two outs, but it was much too late as Naquin lined out to end it.
The Indians fall back to a game above even at 17-16 and are now 9-7 at home. The Twins end their eight-game losing streak and improve to 9-26, including a 3-16 record on the road. They have won three games against AL Central rivals – all coming via the Indians. They also avoided their second nine-game losing streak this season.
“It’s good to win,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor after the game, in reference to the club’s eight-game losing streak that ended on Saturday. “It feels like it’s been a long time. The discouragement, it’s been there. You have to find a way to get one on the board and see where it goes.”
Santana (1-2, 3.38) earned his first win of the 2016 season and his first win in Cleveland since 2011 with six strong innings on the mound for the Twins. He allowed just one run on five hits, struck out five, and walked one on 102 pitches on the afternoon. He minimized damage and benefited from the two early double play balls that cost the Indians several valuable scoring opportunities in the early innings. Despite giving the Indians an early lead, a recipe for success for the club this season, he buckled down once his battery mate gave him the lead and would keep the Indians off of the scoreboard for the rest of his outing.
“He changed speeds like he always does, and we never got a ton going,” said Indians manager Terry Francona in the postgame interview. “He was good the whole game.”
Santana is now 2-6 in ten career starts at Progressive Field. His first win in the city was a memorable one – the only no-hitter in the 22-year history of the ball park on July 27, 2011, while he was a member of the Angels.
SHOCKING POWER FROM CENTENO
It took Twins backup backstop Centeno 76 plate appearances at the MLB level to hit his first career home run. It was his fourth game of the season with the Twins; he had previously appeared in parts of 2013 and 2014 with the New York Mets and 2015 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
What makes the home run by Centeno off of Kluber all the more shocking is that he had just four minor league home runs in 1,665 plate appearances in a professional career dating back to 2007.
WAITING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE
All three Indians runs came with two outs. The Twins, meanwhile had just one two-out RBI, their final run of the game, despite going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
LONG BALL AND LACK OF SUPPORT AGAIN HURT KLUBER
Kluber (2-5, 4.30) lost another game in which he was provided with minimal run support. He limited the Twins to four runs on seven hits in six and two-thirds innings, walking three and striking out seven. The big inning again proved costly for the Tribe right-hander, who allowed the home run to Centeno, who had yet to get a home run trot in during his Major League career.
GOMES GETTING BACK IN THE GROOVE?
After ending an 0-for-20 skid and 2-for-42 slide at the plate, the Tribe’s catcher has now homered in back-to-back games, giving him five on the season. His 1-for-4 day at the plate Saturday boosted his average to .167.
BRANTLEY BACK TO DL
The Indians are once again without two of their starting outfielders. Lonnie Chisenhall was placed on the bereavement list prior to Friday’s game, but matters became worse on Saturday as the club placed left fielder Michael Brantley back on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder. He has not played since Monday’s opener in Houston against the Astros. He was rested for the next two games, plus Thursday’s off day, but the shoulder was still not responding the way that the team had hoped, keeping him out of the lineup again on Friday and Saturday.
He will head to Wilmington, Delaware, to visit Dr. Craig Morgan on Tuesday, the doctor who repaired Brantley’s right labrum tear last November.
In Sunday’s 1:10 PM ET scheduled start from Progressive Field, right-hander Trevor Bauer (3-0, 3.86) will take the mound for the Indians with the hopes of securing a series win against the Twins. Minnesota will send righty Tyler Duffey (0-2, 2.60) to the rubber, looking to given the Twins back-to-back wins for the first time since April 26 and 27 – also against Cleveland. Duffey was 1-0 in two starts against Cleveland in his rookie season last year.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images