Three-Run Seventh Secures Tribe Sweep of Twins; Indians 6, Twins 2
Bob Toth | On 20, Apr 2017
Cleveland needed a big start from Trevor Bauer and the Indians right-hander needed to avoid the big inning and did so as he provided a quality start on Thursday afternoon and the Indians used a big three-run seventh inning to push past the Minnesota Twins, 6-2, to sweep the series at Target Field.
Bauer entered his third start in need of a good outing and gave the club exactly that, dodging the costly innings that had plagued him in each of his first two starts this season, when he allowed ten runs in ten and two-thirds innings to enter the day’s action with an 8.44 ERA and a pair of losses.
He had a tough task against Minnesota right-hander Ervin Santana, who entered one of the top pitchers in the league, but the veteran was going to need to overcome some historic difficulties with the Indians. He was able to do that, but his bullpen made it so that his own quality start would not be enough on the day for a Twins win.
It was smooth sailing for each starter through the first three innings. Santana walked a pair in the second, but a double play ball in between kept the inning under control. Bauer worked around a two-out walk of Miguel Sano in the first and had retired seven straight heading into the fourth, but that was when the Twins threatened to do big things against the Tribe starter.
Joe Mauer started the frame with a double to left-center and one out later, Max Kepler moved him to third with a single. A walk by Robbie Grossman loaded the bases and with Jason Castro at the plate, Bauer’s foot slipped off of the rubber, leading to a balk call that allowed all runners to move up 90 feet, forcing in the first run of the game in unconventional fashion. After Castro walked to reload the bases, the Twins got a more conventional run on a sacrifice fly from Jorge Polanco to left, bringing Kepler in to make it a 2-0 game. With two on and two outs and the inning dangerously close to escaping him, Bauer struck out Eddie Rosario to end the home half.
The Indians wasted a one-out walk from Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth and the Twins did similar, stranding Kepler after a one-out double in the bottom half. Cleveland would not waste again, as the seventh inning proved to be a turning point in the contest.
Santana’s day was done on the mound as Tyler Duffey entered from the bullpen, but he allowed two singles and struck out one batter before turning the game over to Taylor Rogers. The left-hander poured more gas on the Indians’ fire as Cleveland’s Santana tied the game with a double to left to score Yandy Diaz. An intentional walk to Francisco Lindor loaded the bases for Michael Brantley, who worked his way from 0-2 to 3-2 before drawing the game-changing walk, forcing in the go-ahead run. Matt Belisle took over and retired the first man that he faced before Jose Ramirez drew a bases-loaded walk of his own. The free pass brought home Santana and the Indians had a 4-2 lead.
Bauer began the seventh and retired the only batter that he faced, but it took manager Terry Francona three more relievers to clear the inning as the Twins threatened, but did not score.
Bauer (1-2, 6.85 ERA) took the win in the series finale after allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. The Tribe improved to 8-7 on the season and 6-3 on the road. The series victory was their first since sweeping the Texas Rangers to start the season.
Duffey (0-1, 2.00) took the loss in just one-third of an inning of relief. Santana took the tough no-decision despite allowing just one run over six innings on the afternoon. The Twins fell to 7-8 with the defeat.
With the series completed, the Indians will head to Chicago for a three-game series this weekend with the White Sox before heading home to Cleveland. The Twins, losers of four straight, will host the Detroit Tigers.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images