Five-Run Fifth Leads Kluber and Tribe to a Twins Sweep; Indians 8, Twins 4
Bob Toth | On 31, Aug 2016
A good ball club has an ace at the top of its rotation, a strong arm it can rely on more often than not. Corey Kluber has maintained that status this season for the Indians and Wednesday was no different as the Indians completed the three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins with an 8-4 victory.
Cleveland started the scoring in the bottom of the second after singles from Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez. With two outs, Abraham Almonte doubled off of Twins rookie left-hander Pat Dean, scoring Napoli to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Minnesota tied it to lead off the third as Max Kepler found his power stroke and drove one out of the yard to tie the game at one. That score would remain until the bottom of the fourth, when Carlos Santana returned the favor with a solo homer off of Dean to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead. The blast was the 29th of his career, establishing a new career high while setting a new record in Indians history for homers in a season by a switch-hitter.
The Indians broke the game open in the fifth as Roberto Perez jumped on Dean’s first pitch of the inning and homered to the seats in front of the bullpens in center to extend the Cleveland lead to 3-1. After a groundout by Rajai Davis, the next five Indians reached safely as Jason Kipnis walked, Francisco Lindor singled, and Napoli walked to load the bases. J.T. Chargois relieved and gave up an RBI-single to Santana and a two-run double to Ramirez before a Lonnie Chisenhall sacrifice fly drove in the fifth run of the inning. The Indians would reload the bases on two more walks before Davis lined to short to end the inning.
Kluber faced the minimum in four of the first five innings. He allowed a two-out double to Joe Mauer in the sixth, but no further damage. In the seventh, he struck out the first two batters of the inning before a double from Jorge Polanco and a walk by Kepler, but Juan Centeno became the third strikeout victim of the inning to end the brief Twins threat.
Still leading 7-1 in the eighth, Kluber allowed a leadoff single to Logan Schafer before Brian Dozier continued his powerful second half with a two-run homer, but Kluber ended his night by striking out two of the next three batters to end with eleven strikeouts.
Kipnis got the run back in the bottom half against Ryan O’Rourke, driving in Davis on a sac fly after the Indians center fielder doubled with one out ahead of him.
Rookie Perci Garner made his Major League debut in the ninth in relief of Kluber, giving up back-to-back singles before striking out Kepler and getting a groundout from Eduardo Escobar. After walking Schafer on four straight, Bryan Shaw entered. A wild pitch scored Eddie Rosario, but Shaw would earn his first save of the season by striking out Dozier to end it.
Cleveland improved to 76-56 with the sweep of Minnesota, once again holding off any advancements by Detroit as the Tigers won again late against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. Minnesota falls to 49-84 and is now losers of 13 straight games, the longest losing skid in the Majors this season and the second-longest in franchise history.
The season series between the two teams is now deadlocked at eight wins apiece.
KLUBER WINS 15TH
Kluber’s pursuit of the playoffs and another Cy Young award both received good boosts with his strong outing on Wednesday.
He lasted eight innings on the night, giving up three runs on six hits with a pair of walks and eleven strikeouts. Two balls left the yard to provide the Twins with all three of their runs off of him. The eleven strikeouts were a season-high and marked the second time in 2016 that he has reached double digit strikeout totals in a start.
Kluber (15-8, 3.09 ERA) has given the Indians ten consecutive quality starts on the mound. They have not lost a game he started since July 24 against Baltimore and he has not earned a loss since July 3 in Toronto.
“Yeah, he’s pretty good,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “That’s a nice feeling knowing that every five days, and it’s not like we don’t have other guys, but he’s so consistent at a high level that it’s really nice.”
He has now won 44 consecutive games when receiving four runs or more of support from his teammates. His start came one day short of the anniversary of his Major League debut on September 1, 2011.
DEAN DONE IN BY BIG INNING
The rookie left-hander Dean (1-5, 6.75) could not survive the Indians’ fifth inning onslaught and once again struggled with the long ball.
He worked four and one-third innings on the night, giving up six runs on seven hits while walking three and failing to strike out any Indians hitters. He has now allowed eleven homers in 53 1/3 innings of work on the year.
SANTANA’S SHOULDER ENDS HIS SEASON
Minnesota’s Danny Santana, who just landed on the disabled list at the start of the series, is expected to miss the remainder of the season with shoulder issues.
CRISP COMING TO CLEVELAND
The Indians announced earlier in the day on Wednesday that the club had acquired outfielder Coco Crisp from the Oakland Athletics for minor league left-hander Colt Hynes. Crisp will be on the roster for the Indians next game on Friday.
Garner’s debut numbers may have been a little tarnished by nerves, but it still marked a memorable climb to the Majors for the 27-year-old right-hander, who made his first appearance with the Indians on Wednesday in the ninth.
Garner had started the year at Double-A Akron and was promoted to Triple-A Columbus during the season. His contract was purchased from Columbus on Wednesday afternoon as the club added him to the 40-man roster when they transferred catcher Yan Gomes to the 60-day disabled list and to the 25-man roster when the club optioned right-hander Shawn Armstrong to Class-A Lake County.
TOMLIN TO BE SKIPPED
Francona shared Wednesday that scuffling starter Josh Tomlin will have his turn in the rotation skipped.
Tomlin was 0-5 with an 11.48 ERA in the month of August and was spared a sixth straight loss in the month by the Cleveland comeback on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to put our heads together,” said Francona. “How to get him back the best way. We need to figure that out.”
The Indians have not announced a replacement for Tomlin, but an off day in the schedule will buy them extra time to make a decision.
A WELL DESERVED DAY OF REST
After playing games in 23 consecutive days, the Indians will undoubtedly enjoy one of their two remaining off days in the 2016 regular season schedule on Thursday. Play will resume for the club on Friday when it hosts the Miami Marlins in a three-game interleague series at Progressive Field at 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images