Tribe Takes Series from Twins on Brantley’s Walk-off; Indians 5, Twins 4
Bob Toth | On 09, Aug 2018
Through 112 games, the Cleveland Indians had two walk-off victories and had not had one since May 27. They matched that mark in the last two games as Michael Brantley drove in Greg Allen with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth of a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon from Progressive Field.
The recipe to a victory followed a similar design for the Tribe on Thursday, as they needed late inning heroics to overcome a game-tying home run from a member of the heart of the Twins order.
With the game tied at four since the top of the sixth inning, the Indians stepped to the plate after four straight hitless and scoreless innings of work from the Twins bullpen in relief of starter Jose Berrios, who lasted just four innings. A familiar tortured foe, Addison Reed, had the task of keeping the Indians off of the bases and had done so when he struck out the final batter of the bottom of the eighth, but newly recalled Allen ended the team’s streak of ten straight hitless at bats with a second-pitch single to right to start the home half of the ninth. The speedster used his gift to swipe second base and moved to third on a groundout by Francisco Lindor. Brantley stepped to the plate and took two fastballs out of the zone before taking a strike looking on a third straight four-seamer. The next pitch, however, was slapped into play as Brantley threaded a slider low and away past the diving first baseman Logan Morrison into right field, scoring Allen with ease with the game-winner.
The Indians (64-50) have now won back-to-back series against the Twins and improved to 37-23 at home this season. Their lead in the American League Central grew to eleven games and they evened the season series against the Twins at eight games each with one final series left at the end of the month. Andrew Miller earned his second win of the season with a scoreless inning of relief in the ninth.
It marked the 12th time this season that the Twins (53-61) have been defeated in walk-off fashion.
The Indians took a big early lead to support their ace, Corey Kluber, but would see it disappear quickly in the middle innings as the Twins rallied back against the Tribe’s right-hander.
Kluber allowed hits in each of the first two innings, but kept the Twins off of the scoreboard. The Indians got a walk from Brantley in the first, but really got to work in the second against Berrios. On the second pitch of the inning, Yonder Alonso drove a four-seamer 400 feet to right for a solo shot, his 20th, to put Cleveland up 1-0. Melky Cabrera worked Berrios for nine pitches, fouling off four straight before working a walk. Jason Kipnis did the same on six pitches to put two on for Roberto Perez, who sacrificed the pair up 90 feet. Allen struck out swinging for the second out, but Lindor did not disappoint as he sent a two-run single to right before advancing to second while in a rundown on a throwing error by Miguel Sano. Brantley grounded out to first, but the Indians had a 3-0 lead.
Lindor would be involved in the scoring again in the fourth as the Indians extended their lead. Kipnis walked for the second straight trip. Perez flied out, but Allen singled to put two on. Lindor drove a third straight curveball from his fellow Puerto Rican to deep right for an RBI-double, making it a 4-0 game. Berrios would work out of the jam, striking out a frustrated Brantley swinging and Edwin Encarnacion the same way around an intentional walk of Jose Ramirez that had temporarily loaded the bases.
After Sano reached to start the second with a single, Kluber retired nine in a row before a double to deep left-center by Max Kepler to kick off the fifth. Ehire Adrianza flied to left, advancing Kepler to third, and he would score on a sacrifice fly to center by Jake Cave to make it a 4-1 game.
Berrios got the hook after four, having thrown 97 pitches on the day. Gabriel Moya shut the Tribe down over the next two and two-thirds innings as the Twins would work their way back further against Cleveland with a big inning off of Kluber in the sixth. Bobby Wilson began things by blooping a single to left. One out later, Eddie Rosario reached with a deep single to right to put two on for Jorge Polanco, who found a cutter to his liking and drove the 1-0 pitch to the seats in right to tie the game at four. Kluber recovered to strike out both Sano and Kepler with his fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game, but the damage was done.
Kluber pitched the seventh, working around a two-out single by brief Indians minor leaguer Johnny Field while striking out his seventh batter of the day. Brad Hand worked a scoreless eighth, striking out a pair.
Kluber worked seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven, throwing 117 pitches on the day. His scoreless innings streak, dating back to the first inning of two starts ago against the Detroit Tigers, came to an end in the fifth at 19 1/3 innings.
Berrios allowed four runs to the Tribe for the second straight outing, but unlike his last one (a win), he took a no-decision. Pitch count and command were his biggest issues as he threw 97 pitches in those four innings of work while walking six batters. He was charged with four earned runs on four hits and struck out five.
Lindor and Allen each had a pair of hits on the day. Lindor drove in three. Allen was recalled from Triple-A Columbus at the beginning of the day as Leonys Martin was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an unspecified non-baseball illness that could keep him out beyond the 10-day DL window. Kipnis scored a pair of runs while walking three times. Ramirez was 0-for-2, but drew two walks. Cleveland out-walked Minnesota, 7-0, in the game.
The Indians will hit the road for the Windy City, where they will kick off a three-game weekend series with the White Sox (41-73) on Friday night. The Twins will head to Michigan to face off with the third place Detroit Tigers.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images