Sweep Complete as Encarnacion Backs Bauer with Two Bombs; Indians 5, Twins 2
Bob Toth | On 18, Jun 2017
The Cleveland Indians completed a very emphatic display this weekend as strong pitching from Trevor Bauer and a pair of home runs from Edwin Encarnacion helped the Indians complete a four-game sweep in Minnesota over the Twins with a 5-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The fifth straight victory for the Indians (36-31) moved the club’s record to a season-high five games above the .500 mark. Trailing the Twins (34-33) by a pair of games at the outset of the series, the Tribe gained four games with the four wins and now hold a two-game lead over the young Twins team.
A strong performance from Bauer helped pace the Indians as he moved to the winning side of the season ledger with another victory over the Twins this season. Making his third start against Minnesota after winning each of his first two, he did not allow a run until his final inning of work and retired 15 straight batters at one stretch.
The Indians threatened in the first inning off of Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson, an unfamiliar sight for Cleveland in the last week after seeing four straight southpaws and five in the last six games. With one down in the inning, Jason Kipnis singled and Jose Ramirez doubled to deep right, but Encarnacion struck out and Lonnie Chisenhall flied out to end the inning.
The Twins had a chance to strike through against Bauer in the home half of the second inning but missed out on a nice defensive play by Bradley Zimmer. Max Kepler singled to short and, after a strikeout by Kennys Vargas, moved to second on a walk by Eduardo Escobar. Eddie Rosario singled to center, but Zimmer’s worm burner throw from center skipped to Roberto Perez at the plate, where he applied the tag on Kepler for the second out. Still with two in scoring position, Byron Buxton grounded to short to strand the pair.
Encarnacion made up for his missed opportunity with two on in the first when he stepped up against Gibson with one down in the fourth. First pitch swinging, he drilled a monstrous drive to the middle deck, more than 450 feet away per estimates, to put the Indians on top, 1-0.
The Indians stranded a pair in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Zimmer and Perez to start the inning. Encarnacion made sure that the Tribe would not suffer the same fate when he stepped back into the box against Gibson in the sixth after Ramirez worked a leadoff walk. He sent a cloud scraper over the wall in left for a two-run shot to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Tyler Duffey took over for the Twins in the seventh and nearly got two quick outs, but Kipnis reached on a wild pitch on his third strike to give the Indians their first of several base runners in the inning. Ramirez singled and Encarnacion drove home the Cleveland second baseman with his own single to left. After a strikeout by Chisenhall, both runners moved up on a passed ball by Chris Gimenez, leading to Santana being intentionally walked to load the bases. Reliever Taylor Rogers was able to work out of trouble, getting Zimmer to ground to first to end the inning with the Indians on top, 4-0.
Bauer’s brilliance on the mound carried on well through the middle innings. He retired the side in order in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, notching at least one strikeout in each frame. In the seventh, it all dramatically changed with one pitch. After striking out Miguel Sano and Kepler to start the inning, his 1-1 offering to Vargas got him in the hind quarters. The hit by pitch immediately haunted Bauer as the next pitch to Escobar was doubled into the left field corner, scoring the big Vargas all the way from first base. Rosario made it a 4-2 game with a single to right, but he ran himself out of the inning as the throw to the plate was cut off alertly by Santana, who threw to Kipnis at first to force Rosario into a rundown to end the inning.
Cody Allen entered from the bullpen in the eighth inning after Bauer walked pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman to start the inning. Allen worked around some two-out trouble after walking Joe Mauer on five pitches, but Sano aggressively jumped on the next pitch and flied to Chisenhall in right.
Cleveland tacked on one more in the top of the ninth against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler, who had little reason to pitch this weekend. He allowed a one-out double to Ramirez, who stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly from Encarnacion for the fifth run of the ball game for the Indians. Andrew Miller came on for the save in the bottom of the ninth, walking Vargas with one out but otherwise faced little resistance in earning his first save of the season.
Bauer moved to 6-5 on the year with the win and 3-0 against the Twins through his first three starts against them. He will see them again quickly as his next scheduled start will be in Cleveland on Friday when the Twins come to town. Bauer worked seven-plus innings on the afternoon, allowing just two runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.
Gibson saw his personal three-game winning streak in the month of June come to an end despite making a quality start for Minnesota. He worked six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts on 98 pitches. The loss dropped him to 4-5 on the season.
Ramirez extended his hitting streak to six straight games, but his streak is more than just a handful of hits long. All six games of the streak have included at least two hits and four of the games have been three-hit contests. The third baseman has also been on a doubles tear, getting at least one two-bagger in each of the six games of the streak. In his last six games, Ramirez is 16-for-27 (.593) with eight doubles, three homers, and seven RBI. His season batting average has jumped 34 points from .279 to .313 during the hot stretch at the plate.
Not to be outdone, Encarnacion, as he has throughout his career, has heated up with the weather. With his pair of homers on Sunday, he has homered four times in the last four days and six times in the last ten games. He has already matched his homer output from May with six with 12 more days of games left to play this month.
With the first half of their road trip complete with a 4-0 record, the Indians will head to Baltimore for four straight with the Orioles. Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger are all scheduled to start for the Indians in the series against an O’s club which has won two straight after dropping eight of the previous nine contests.
The four-gamer against the birds is scheduled to open Monday night at 7:05 PM ET.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images