Garver Gives Twins Another Walk-off Win Against Tribe; Twins 5, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 30, Jul 2018
Mitch Garver, who entered the game 1-for-16 against the Indians this season, won the game for the Twins on Monday night with a deep drive to the gap in left-center in the bottom of the ninth to give Minnesota a 5-4 win over Cleveland.
The second-year backstop with 91 games of experience under his belt was riding a hot stretch at the plate, coming into the game with good numbers over the last week, hitting .409 with three doubles, a homer, and six runs batted in. He would tally two more hits on Monday, but it was the last one that made the biggest difference.
Neil Ramirez was on the mound for manager Terry Francona’s Tribe in a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning after the Indians stranded two in scoring position in the top half of the frame against closer Fernando Rodney. Miguel Sano worked an eight-pitch walk after fouling off several pitches to start the inning and was lifted for pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza. Jake Cave, who had made a costly error in the middle innings that allowed the Indians to tie the game, dropped down a sacrifice to third, moving the winning run into scoring position. Two pitches later, Garver sent a shot to deep left-center, splitting Michael Brantley and Rajai Davis with the game-winner.
The Twins (49-56), who spent the afternoon further gutting their roster with the trades of two more players ahead of the deadline, gained a game on the Indians (57-48) with the win and improved to 7-3 on the year against Cleveland. It was the third time that they have walked off against the Indians this season, their most since hitting four walk-offs against them in 2016.
The Tribe held an early advantage in the contest, giving rookie Shane Bieber a lead to work with. Veteran right-hander Ervin Santana, who had destroyed the Indians in four starts a season ago, got the start on Monday in just his second outing of the season after surgery on his right ring finger. Three batters into the game, Jose Ramirez ended his seven-game hitless drought with a drive over the wall in right to put the Indians up, 1-0.
Bieber struck out a pair in the first, but had to battle to get through the second. Brian Dozier reached on an error by Jason Kipnis and the free-agent-to-be motored to third base on a single to right by Max Kepler. A sacrifice fly by Robbie Grossman to deep center tied the game at one. Sano came through with a big double to left that scored Kepler all the way from first with the go-ahead run, putting the Twins up 2-1. Sano would be picked off of second and Cave struck out, but Minnesota had the lead.
The Tribe’s right-hander kept the Twins off of the scoreboard in the third, working around a two-out walk of Eddie Rosario. It allowed Ramirez to come through with his second homer in as many at bats, tying the game at two after three and a half.
The Indians reclaimed the lead in the fifth. After Kipnis fouled out to first, Yan Gomes made it a 3-2 game with his eleventh homer of the year. The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Twins loaded the bases against Bieber in the bottom of the inning. Sano reached on a single to short and after a line out by Cave, Garver reached on an infield single up the middle. Joe Mauer drew a walk to load the bases before a big strikeout by Bieber of Rosario for the second out. Nearly out of the jam, Jorge Polanco extended his hitting streak with a single to right, scoring both Sano and Garver to put the Twins back on top, 4-3.
A bad play in center would lead to the Indians tying the game in the next half inning against Santana. Ramirez flied to center for the first out before Edwin Encarnacion was plunked in the backside by a pitch. Yonder Alonso lifted a fly ball to shallow center, but the sprinting Cave attempted to make a diving catch instead of playing the ball safely. The ball bounded past the center fielder and Encarnacion hustled all the way home to tie the game at four on the double by Alonso. Melky Cabrera walked as the last batter to face Santana and the two base runners would move up 90 feet on a groundout by Kipnis off of reliever Gabriel Moya, but Gomes could not drive them in as he grounded out to second.
Bieber retired the side in order for the third time in the sixth, but the Indians could not deliver with a big opportunity in the seventh. Francisco Lindor tripled to the right field corner with one out off of Trevor Hildenberger. Brantley grounded to second for the second out before Ramirez was walked. He stole second, but Encarnacion struck out looking to strand two more in scoring position.
Bieber gave up a single to Cave before getting Garver to fly to center for the final out that he would get in the bottom of the seventh. Oliver Perez retired both men that he would face.
The Indians stranded two more in the eighth. Taylor Rogers allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Cabrera and Kipnis, but Matt Magill struck out Gomes swinging before Greg Allen flied out to left to leave two more on the bases.
Cody Allen pitched a good eighth, working around a one-out single by Dozier. Rodney had to tight-rope through the ninth after walking Lindor to start the inning. He stole second and moved to third on a groundout by Brantley for the first out, but with the heart of the order coming to the plate, the Tribe bats could not deliver. Ramirez struck out on a fastball before Encarnacion drew a four-pitch walk and stole second. Rodney missed the zone twice to Alonso, but reared back with three straight heaters to retire the Indians first baseman, leaving two more runners in scoring position before the Twins won the game three batters later.
Bieber, making his third start of the year against the Twins, had to battle through some tough spots, but gave the Indians six and one-third innings after the shortest outing of his Major League career his last time out last Tuesday. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 67 of 95 pitches for strikes on the night in a no-decision.
“I thought his fastball had good life through the zone, especially when he was down,” said Francona of Bieber’s performance. “I thought he was better than his line.”
“I felt better. I felt more like myself tonight,” shared Bieber after the game. “Overall, it was a good bounce-back outing.”
Santana, who won twice in four attempts against the Indians last season and allowed just one earned run over the course of those outings, struggled against Cleveland in his second start of the year. He lasted five and one-third innings, giving up four runs on six hits with two walks, one hit batter, and one strikeout. Three of the four runs came via the long ball. Like Bieber, he did not factor in the decision.
The Indians stranded ten men on base on the night and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Brantley went 0-for-3 with runners at second or third and went 0-for-5 overall on the night to drop his average below the .300 mark for the first time since April 12, the 13th game of the Tribe’s season and his sixth.
Ramirez hit a pair of homers to move back into a tie with Boston’s J.D. Martinez for the Major League lead with 32 each.
The Tribe will look to end its woes against the Twins on Tuesday night in the middle game of the three-game set from Target Field.
The Twins will send 6’6” right-hander Kyle Gibson (5-7, 3.42 ERA) to the rubber for his 16th career start against the Indians. He is looking to build off of a strong outing earlier this season against the Indians (two runs on two hits in five and two-thirds innings innings of work) and eight innings of one-run baseball his last time out against Boston in a win.
Fellow right-hander Trevor Bauer (9-6, 2.32) will start for Cleveland. He allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings in his last start on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He took a loss in his only game against Minnesota this season, allowing seven runs (three earned) in the effort.
Game time from the Twin Cities is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images