It was a weird night from Target Field, so it seemed fitting that the game would come down to a dramatic ending. A solo home run from Oswaldo Arcia to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Minnesota Twins a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Arcia sent his game-winner to deep right, the Twins’ first since July, over the granite wall off of Indians reliever Zach McAllister (1-1). The Twins outfielder entered the at bat 0-for-6 in eight career plate appearances against McAllister with four strikeouts and a pair of walks. It is Arcia’s second walk-off hit of the season (April 17th versus Los Angeles Angels).
It was just the second hit allowed this season by McAllister.
Facing another left-hander in Tommy Milone, the Indians lineup struggled to capitalize on frequent scoring opportunities throughout the night, scratching across their early runs in unusual fashion.
In the second inning, Carlos Santana, back in the five hole in the lineup, singled to left. After a strikeout from Yan Gomes, Santana advanced to second on the sixth pitch thrown to Marlon Byrd that was in the dirt and got away from catcher Kurt Suzuki. Three pitches later in the lengthy at bat, Byrd singled to left to drive in Santana, but was gunned down trying to stretch his hit into two.
Cleveland got a pair of singles to lead off the third, but a double play and a groundout erased the threat. A two-out single from Santana and a walk from Gomes put two on, and the second wild pitch of the night from Milone put both in scoring position, but Byrd flied out to right to end the fourth.
In the fifth, the Indians extended their lead, again with some two-out luck. Rajai Davis singled to center and stole his sixth base of the season, which paid off on the very next pitch when Jason Kipnis singled to center and moved to second on an error at the plate charged to Suzuki. Francisco Lindor was intentionally walked, but Mike Napoli struck out as the Indians stranded another runner in scoring position.
The Twins took the lead in the bottom half of the fifth and chased Indians starter Danny Salazar from the game as the inning fell apart for the Tribe. After two outs and a gem from Lindor at short, Danny Santana reached on a single up the middle that Lindor got to but could not make a play on. With Eduardo Nunez at the plate, Salazar appeared to pick off Santana leaning from first, but despite a replay review, the call on the field stood. Things then compounded, as Santana moved to second on a balk from Salazar and Nunez drew a walk. A wild pitch from Salazar moved both runners up and it loomed large as Brian Dozier shot a liner down the left field line past Juan Uribe at third to score both runners and tie the game at two. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked and Miguel Sano singled to right to score Dozier with the go-ahead run.
“It was a lot of 3-2 counts, 3-1 count to Dozier. At some point you gotta figure somebody’s going to get a hit,” said Indians manager Terry Francona in the postgame interview. “I just thought with the stuff he had tonight, that’s a night where he should go deeper in the game. So many things happened that inning. There was a balk, still trying to figure out where the balk was, ball down the right field line that Marlon almost catches, pop up that goes about two feet too far. Frankie up the middle. A lot happened that inning and it finally ended up where they pushed a couple runs across.”
Cleveland again stranded runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings. Byrd was stranded at second after a two-out double in the sixth. Davis singled and moved to second on a balk with one out in the seventh, but was stranded after a Kipnis strikeout, Lindor walk, and Napoli strikeout.
Gomes got the Indians back on the board in the top of the eighth, jumping on the first pitch he saw from reliever Ryan Pressly and parking the pitch in the bullpen to tie the game at three. But again, a runner was stranded after Uribe doubled to left-center and his pinch-runner, Tyler Naquin, moved to third on an infield single to first by Jose Ramirez, but Michael Brantley flied out to left pinch-hitting in his season debut.
Kevin Jepsen (1-3) retired all three batters he faced in the top of the ninth inning on balls in the air to earn the win.
The Indians (9-8) lose their first game on this nine-game road trip and see their three-game winning streak come to an end. The Twins (6-14) pull back above even at home on the season at 5-4 and end their three-game losing skid.
“When you’re on the road in a tie game, what happened has a chance to happen,” said Francona. “But we’ll win some of those, too.”
STRANDING A LARGE CITY ON BASE
The Indians were 3-for-11 hitting with runners in scoring position on Monday. They left ten runners on base. They mustered just three runs despite 12 hits, while the Twins made four runs stand on five hits on the night.
Salazar was unable to make it out of the fifth inning for the first time this season. Command was an issue, despite allowing just three hits on the night. Two of them came in his final frame and contributed to the three runs he was charged. He struck out three, but walked four, throwing just 53 of 101 pitches for strikes in the no-decision.
FOUR AND TWO-THIRDS AND FLY?
Twins starter Milone, for the third time this season, could not retire the final out of the fifth inning. He allowed a season-low two runs on Monday on seven hits in his no-decision, striking out five and walking two.
WHAT? A BALK??
The balk called on Salazar in the fifth inning was the first balk by an Indians pitcher this season. Not to be outdone, Twins reliever Fernando Abad notched the first balk of the year for Minnesota in the seventh.
Prior to Monday’s game, the Indians activated left fielder Brantley from the 15-day disabled list and placed starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco on the DL with a left hamstring strain that should sideline him for at least four to six weeks. Brantley made his season debut in the top of the eighth inning, pinch-hitting with two outs and runners on the corners, but flied out to left to strand a pair.
Napoli was 0-for-5 at the plate Monday with three strikeouts. He has now struck out ten times in his last four games, a span of 18 at bats.
ONE IN THE CHAMBERLAIN
Joba Chamberlain worked one and one-third innings in relief as the fourth man to take the mound for the Tribe on the night. He needed just eleven pitches (eight strikes) to retire all four Twins that he faced, including one fly out and three outs on the ground.
Minnesota celebrated the life of one of their celebrities on Monday night, as each member of the Twins picked a song by the late Prince as his walk up song for the game. Other tunes from the famed singer/song writer/musician were played throughout the contest.
Cody Anderson (0-1, 7.53 ERA) will look to get himself back on track and earn his first win of the season on Tuesday night. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 2.66) will oppose for the Twins. First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images