Minnesota pulled off another walk-off win from Target Field on Tuesday night as Miguel Sano singled home Brian Dozier off of Cleveland closer Cody Allen with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give the Twins a 6-5 victory over the Indians.
Response runs were a story of the night and the ninth inning was no different as Indians manager Terry Francona sent Allen (0-2) to the mound to keep the game tied. It would not be so for the Tribe as Allen gave up a leadoff single deep in the hole at short by Danny Santana. He would be erased on a caught stealing after a crew chief review for the first out, but Dozier followed with a double to right-center. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked, but it did not matter as Sano singled to center to drive home the winning run.
A second straight devastating night for the Indians, this one powered by just six hits, dropped the club back to the .500 mark at 9-9. The Twins improved to 6-4 at home and are now 7-14 on the season.
The Indians had jumped out to an early lead with the second batter of the game as Jason Kipnis sent a 1-2 pitch off of Minnesota starter Ricky Nolasco into the stands in right. But in what would become a trend for the night, the Twins repeated the Indians gesture, taking two batters against Cleveland starter Cody Anderson to tie the game up in the bottom of the inning. Santana doubled to start off the Minnesota half and Dozier singled him home.
The Twins took the lead after Nolasco struck out the side in the second. Byung-Ho Park doubled and moved to third on a groundout from Eduardo Escobar. Kurt Suzuki then delivered an RBI-single to center to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
That advantage was shortlived, as Juan Uribe belted a first pitch homer to lead off the third to tie the game back up at two. But with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Suzuki came up big again with another RBI-single, plating Park after his one-out double (his second of the game).
The Twins pushed the lead to two runs in the bottom of the fifth, when Santana reached on a bunt single. He was thrown out at third on a single by Dozier to right, but Dozier advanced to second on the play. He came around to score the fourth run of the night on a ground rule double to left by Mauer.
Despite the largest deficit of the game, the Indians responded with a pair of runs to tie the game back up. Tyler Naquin singled to lead off and scored on a double to deep center by Carlos Santana. He moved to third on a fly out from Kipnis and scored on a sacrifice fly from Francisco Lindor.
Anderson returned for the sixth inning after flirting with danger and already having surrendered four solo runs through the first five innings. After getting two groundouts, Eddie Rosario jumped on a first pitch and sent a game-changing solo blast to right to give the Twins a 5-4 lead. Anderson left for Dan Otero, who walked one and retired four in an inning and one-third.
After squandering a leadoff double from Naquin in the eighth, the Indians were down to their final out in a one-run game with closer Kevin Jepsen on the mound. Mike Napoli, marred in a horrible stretch at the plate, crushed a game-tying home run to even the score at five. Despite allowing the home run, Jepsen (2-3) got the win after the comeback in the bottom half.
ANDERSON STRUGGLES AGAIN
Anderson stayed in one inning too long on the night. After fighting with ball placement all game long in the back-and-forth scoring struggle, he exited in the sixth inning with five and two-thirds innings logged to his credit. He allowed five runs on ten hits, walked one, and struck out four.
NOLASCO STRIKES OUT NINE
Nolasco was sharp for the Twins. He allowed four runs on five hits over seven and one-third innings while striking out nine and walking no one.
MAUER LIVING ON BASE
Long-time Twin Mauer has reached base in 21 straight games to start the season, currently the longest streak in the Majors. He still trails former Minnesota slugger Kent Hrbek’s record of 33 straight to open the 1982 season.
THREE TIMES THE FUN
The top two hitters in the Twins’ batting order, Santana and Dozier, had three hits each while combining to go 6-for-10 with three runs scored and one RBI.
Napoli ended a disastrous 0-for-13 stretch at the plate (including seven strikeouts in that span) with his monstrous clout deep to left, marking the second time in a week that Napoli has delivered a late game-tying home run for the Tribe, despite his recent struggles.
STRIKE OUT MACHINE
The Indians struck out eleven times Tuesday night, just one night after striking out ten times against Twins pitching.
Reliever Tommy Hunter, signed by the Indians late in the offseason, appears to be just about ready to return to the club from his extended rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus. Francona indicated prior to the game that he could join Cleveland by the weekend.
Former Indians outfielder David Murphy, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels in the days ahead of the trade deadline last season, has called it a career. He joined the Boston Red Sox late in spring training on a minor league contract, but opted out of his contract at the end of spring training. He signed two weeks later with the Twins and reported to Triple-A Rochester, but left the team on Sunday, asking for and receiving a release from his contract.
SHUFFLING THE DECK
Prior to Tuesday night’s game, the Twins made a second significant wave of roster moves in as many days. They placed starting pitchers Ervin Santana (lower back strain) and Kyle Gibson (right shoulder strain) on the 15-day disabled list, calling up rookie right-hander Jose Berrios and infielder Jorge Polanco.
Josh Tomlin (2-0, 1.54 ERA) will take the ball in the series finale as the Indians look to salvage the three-game set in Minnesota. Berrios will make his Major League debut for the Twins, taking Gibson’s turn in the rotation.
Game time is 8:10 PM ET on Wednesday night.
Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone