Tribe Survives Blown Eight-Run Lead on Lindor’s Second Blast; Indians 9, Twins 8
Bob Toth | On 31, May 2018
Francisco Lindor had four extra base hits, including the deciding home run in the top of the eighth inning as the Cleveland Indians survived blowing an eight-run lead in a 9-8 win over the Minnesota Twins from Target Field on Thursday night.
The woes of the Tribe pitching staff continued in the series opener as the Twins came all the way back from an 8-0 deficit, but the Indians got a major contribution from one of the faces of the franchise, who capped an incredible month of May with one last Herculean performance.
The Indians’ bullpen spoiled the Major League debut and 23rd birthday of right-hander Shane Bieber, who was given the comfort of a three-run lead before he took the mound and an eight-run lead through three and a half frames. The Twins, who have had a handful of close games in the recent days, used the middle innings to their advantage to cut the gap to six, then four, and then zero with a steady onslaught against the Indians’ young pitching prospect and a bullpen whose efforts for much of this season could only be described as “terrible”. Lindor, with three extra base hits in four trips under his belt against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi and the Minnesota bullpen, would become the hero with one more mighty swing of his bat.
The Twins, down 8-4 in the bottom of the seventh, saw four different Indians pitchers and banged that drum to the tune of four runs to tie the game and cap an improbable comeback. Dan Otero kicked off the inning by giving up a single to Robbie Grossman before retiring Ryan LaMarre. After plunking Brian Dozier, he was hooked by Tribe skipper Terry Francona for Jeff Beliveau, who gave up an RBI-single on his first and only pitch of the game to Eddie Rosario, putting runners on first and second in an 8-5 game. Zach McAllister would fare one pitch better, as a fastball in nearly the same location as his first to Miguel Sano was pushed the opposite way to right for a game-tying three-run home run, completing the Twins’ rally in epic fashion. Tyler Olson was summoned to stop the bleeding and did, needing 13 pitches to get a pair of outs around a two-out walk of Eduardo Escobar.
With the big lead completely squandered, the Indians had the stage set for Lindor to play the hero. Addison Reed, whose early career in Chicago was marred by some late inning dramatics by the Indians (see more below), took over on the mound but may have wished he did not. Greg Allen, a fellow San Diego State alumnus, flied out to center in a ten-pitch at bat. Lindor stepped in as the lineup turned over and took the count to 2-2 before blasting a drive to deep center for his fourth extra base hit and second home run of the game, putting the Indians back on top by a 9-8 score.
Cody Allen pitched the final out of the eighth and the entire ninth, striking out two to earn his ninth save of the season.
Lindor, who finished the night 4-for-5 with two doubles, two homers, three runs scored, and four RBI, came into the game with a .354/.417/.664 slash in May with eleven doubles, eight homers, and 19 RBI as one of the league’s most productive bats in the second full month of the schedule. His second two-double, two-homer game of the year was a historic feat, as he became just the fourth player since 1908 with two such games in the same season. He was also the first shortstop ever to have two four-hit games during the same season.
The Indians improved to 30-25 on the season with their sixth straight win. They are now a season-high five games above the .500 mark and maintain a four and a half game lead over the Detroit Tigers, who were victorious earlier in the day over the Los Angeles Angels. The Twins fell to 22-30 with the loss and are six and a half games in back of the Indians in third place in the AL Central. They have dropped three straight.
The second homer and fourth extra base hit of the night by Lindor overshadowed the big league debut of Bieber and what looked to be an easy win for the Tribe. Instead, the game served as a perfect reminder of why the game is not played on paper and is not over until the final out is retired.
Cleveland gave its rookie starter some breathing room facing the veteran Odorizzi, who had allowed three homers in his first outing against the Indians in Puerto Rico back in April. Lindor doubled to right and Michael Brantley walked to put two on for Jose Ramirez, who flied to right for the first out of the ball game. Edwin Encarnacion put the Indians on the board, doubling to deep center to make it 1-0. A single by Yonder Alonso scored a second run and a sacrifice fly to right by Melky Cabrera gave the Indians a three-spot for the frame.
Bieber protected the lead early and started his MLB career on the right note, striking out Dozier to start the home half. He would give up a single to Rosario, but Sano struck out and Rosario was picked off of first by catcher Yan Gomes to end the inning.
The Indians threatened in the second on a one-out double by Lindor, but he advanced no further. They had a quiet third, set down in order, but got right to work in the fourth as Jason Kipnis led off the inning with a double to right. Gomes grounded out, but Allen was hit by a pitch. With two on, Lindor cashed in with a three-run skyscraper to right, with more than six seconds of hang time on its flight over the wall, giving the Indians a 6-0 lead. Two batters later, Ramirez would hit his 18th homer of the year to reach the top of the American League long ball leaderboard, making it 7-0. Encarnacion reached on a dropped pop up by Dozier and Alonso walked, bringing Minnesota manager Paul Molitor to the mound for reliever Taylor Rogers. He gave up a single to Cabrera to score the eighth run, but the veteran outfielder got caught between first and second to end the inning.
Bieber struck out a batter in the third and two in the fourth, working around a two-out single by Sano. The Indians stranded a pair in the fifth on singles, but the Twins tallied a pair in the home half. Escobar doubled off of Bieber and Max Kepler walked. Mitch Garver moved both runners up on a groundout and back-to-back singles by Grossman and LaMarre scored a pair of runs to make it 8-2. A double play by Dozier would end the threat.
With two down in the sixth, the Twins tacked on two more. Logan Morrison ended a hitting slump at the plate with a homer deep to center and Escobar followed with a homer of his own to right, cutting the Indians’ lead to 8-4. A single by Kepler would end Bieber’s night with five and two-thirds innings worked. Otero relieved, retiring Garver on a pop out to first, before his night would unravel quickly the following inning.
BIEBER LEAVES WITH LEAD
Bieber was impressive early and was able to pitch with some ease after the big early lead, but he would come away winless as the bullpen was unable to protect the four-run lead that it was once again given.
He worked five and two-thirds innings on the night, allowing four runs on eight hits. He walked one, an uncommon sight in a Bieber start, but struck out six before exiting.
ODORIZZI GIVES UP EIGHT
The story for Odorizzi was actually worse than his first chapter against the Indians this season, when he at least gave a little length and kept the scoring to a minimum despite surrendering three home runs. While he allowed just two homers in the series opener from Minneapolis, the runners who did reach found their ways around the bases as he was charged with eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He worked three and two-thirds innings and threw 92 pitches in that eleven-out span.
Encarnacion (seven games) and Alonso (eight games) each extended their hitting streaks in Thursday’s win. Brantley, however, saw his Major League season-high 19-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0-for-2 day at the plate with two walks and a rare two-strikeout performance.
REED ROUGHED UP BY TRIBE AGAIN
Reed has some ugly numbers against Cleveland in his career (0-2 record in 20 games with a 7.45 ERA, his worst ERA against any MLB team), with much of that coming during his 2013 season. It may have been enough for him to never want to see a Cleveland uniform across the diamond from him.
In his tenth career outing against them during his third big league season, he took the mound at home on June 28, looking to save an 8-5 lead. Instead, three straight singles led to a run and a wild pitch allowed a second run to cross. A fly out moved the tying run to third base in the person of Michael Bourn and Kipnis’ sacrifice fly tied the game. Nick Swisher followed with a 3-2 homer to give the Indians a 9-8 lead, one that Vinnie Pestano protected in the home half for the save.
On July 31 of that season in Cleveland in his next game against the Indians, Reed came in with a 5-3 lead in the ninth. Brantley doubled and Jason Giambi was hit by a pitch. A single by Drew Stubbs loaded the bases, Bourn hit a sacrifice fly, and after an intentional walk of Swisher, Kipnis hit another sacrifice fly to tie it. Carlos Santana walked it off in the bottom of the tenth to win it off of Dylan Axelrod.
Reed helped the Indians’ run to the AL Wild Card game on September 24 with one more blown save and another loss, just ten days after allowing a run to the Tribe in garbage time of an 8-1 loss on September 14. Leading 4-3, he struck out Gomes to start the ninth before a single by Brantley. Mike Aviles struck out but Giambi crushed a two-run walk-off home run to the bullpen in right to crush the Sox, just a short time after Chris Perez had allowed a pair of solo homers in the top half of the inning to give Chicago the lead.
The Indians will go for their seventh straight win on Friday night as the Twins send right-hander Jose Berrios (5-5, 3.67 ERA) to the mound against Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 3.98) in a rematch of game two from San Juan in April.
Berrios has been one of the most reliable pitchers on Molitor’s staff this season. He has factored in the decision in ten of his eleven outings this season, with the only no-decision coming in Puerto Rico in his return home against the Indians in April. He is 2-2 in his career against the Indians with a 3.95 ERA.
Carrasco had a bit of a rough month, but still came away with a 2-2 record for May with three quality starts in five attempts. Friday will once again pit the two right-handers against one another after each worked seven shutout innings from Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Carrasco is 5-6 in his career against Minnesota, including 3-0 last season while posting a 0.92 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images