After a solid 9-3 win earlier in the afternoon, the Cleveland Indians completed the Saturday doubleheader sweep of the Minnesota Twins, 6-2, using four long balls to get the job done.
The win for the Tribe (35-31) moved them into sole possession of first place after tying the Twins (34-32) earlier in the day. The Indians continued their strong play at Target Field this season, improving to 5-0 there this year with seven straight wins dating back to last season, the club’s longest winning streak in Minneapolis since concluding an eight-game streak there in 1969. Home has not been a sweet home for the Twins this season, as they are just 14-23 at their unfriendly confines.
The Indians trailed the Twins after three innings in large part to a missed opportunity for runs in the first inning against the third straight left-hander that Minnesota had thrown at them in the series. After two quick outs by southpaw Adalberto Mejia in the first, Jose Ramirez doubled, Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked, and Carlos Santana reached on a slow roller to third to load the bases. Austin Jackson fell behind in the count before lifting a fly to deep center, but three would be left stranded.
Cleveland again failed to deliver with runners on base in the top of the third. Daniel Robertson drew a one-out walk but, on a bloop single to shallow right-center by Ramirez, Robertson was thrown out trying to go to third for the second out. Encarnacion grounded to short to end the inning.
The Twins put the first tally of the game on the board in the bottom half of the frame against second-year right-hander Mike Clevinger, who was recalled from Triple-A Columbus as the 26th man for the day’s doubleheader. After retiring seven of the first eight, he walked Byron Buxton with one down in the inning. Buxton stole second (after his caught stealing was negated on a wise review by manager Paul Molitor) and he moved to third on a throwing error by Clevinger. Brian Dozier struck out swinging for the second out, but Joe Mauer came through in the clutch with a double to right-center, easily driving in the speedy Buxton to put the Twins up, 1-0.
The Indians responded twice in the next half inning to take the lead. After a groundout by Santana, Jackson did not miss on his second chance at a big fly as his solo homer to left tied the game at one. Yan Gomes grounded back to Mejia on the mound, but Lonnie Chisenhall would send his own deep drive to right over the wall for a solo shot to put the Indians up, 2-1.
Clevinger had retired four straight after the Mauer double before rains came in the top of the fifth, ending his night as well as the outing for the Twins lefty Mejia, who exited the inning with a runner on first and two outs and Encarnacion at the plate. After plate resumed in the middle of the at bat, Tyler Duffey entered in relief and struck out the slugger swinging.
The Indians broke the game open for good in the sixth. Santana walked and Jackson reached on a single to third before a strikeout by Gomes. In stepped Chisenhall, who would continue the theme of big individual performances from the Tribe offense on the day as he cleared the wall with a no-doubter to right. His three-run shot and second of the day made it a 5-1 ball game.
Dozier homered to start the sixth against Nick Goody, on for his second inning of relief. The Indians would get the run back several innings later when Francisco Lindor sent his 13th homer to right off of Alan Busenitz to give the game its 6-2 final score. The 26-year-old right-hander Busenitz was making his Major League debut.
Cody Allen worked an inning and one-third in his first appearance since June 11, earning his first hold of the season. Andrew Miller pitched the ninth in a non-save situation, allowing a hit and striking out a batter.
RAMIREZ EXTENDS MULTI-HIT STREAK
Ramirez saw his three-game hitting streak with three hits a game come to an end with a two-hit performance in the nightcap.
His hitting streak continued with his multi-hit effort, however, as his pair of hits gave him five straight games with at least two hits registered. He has also doubled in each of his last five ball games. Including the finale of the series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday afternoon, Ramirez is 13-for-23 (.565) with six doubles, three homers, and seven RBI over his last four games.
THE ROSTER SHUFFLE
At the start of the day, the Indians optioned left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett back to Triple-A Columbus to make room for fellow left-hander Ryan Merritt, who got the start in the first game of the doubleheader. Following the completion of that game, Merritt was optioned back to Columbus and infielder Giovanny Urshela was recalled to take his place.
The team had not formally announced who would be removed from the roster following the game to get the roster back down to 25. There are 13 pitchers and 13 position players on the roster, with pitcher Adam Plutko and the infielder Urshela the most susceptible to be optioned.
The Twins had their own moves to make to accommodate the doubleheader. Adam Wilk, who started the first game and was hit with the loss, was designated for assignment by the Twins for the second time this season. Ryan Pressly was optioned prior to game one to make room on the roster for him and Busenitz had his contract purchased from Triple-A Rochester. Alex Wimmers served as the 26th man for the doubleheader.
CLEVINGER WAS CRUISING
Clevinger was dealt a no-decision but seemed well in line for the win before rains washed away his chances to even up his record on the year. He worked four innings, allowing just a run on two hits with a walk and four strikeouts. While he struggled at times to get ahead of hitters early in counts, he minimized the free pass, which has been something that has plagued him throughout the season during his appearances with the Indians.
RETURN OF GIO
Urshela appeared in his first Major League game since October 4, 2015. He spent all of last season at Triple-A Columbus after the Indians signed free agent Juan Uribe and later replaced him permanently with Ramirez.
He was 0-for-4 at the plate, but did make several nice defensive plays in the field.
Mejia took the loss, his third of the season, despite allowing just two runs on five hits over four and two-thirds innings. He struck out three and walked three, but was hurt the most by the two home run response by the Tribe in the fourth.
He was coming off of his worst outing of the season, when he allowed nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits in just three and two-thirds innings of work in his second straight start against the Seattle Mariners.
BREAK OUT THE BROOMS
The Indians will go for the four-game sweep of the Twins on Sunday in the 2:10 PM ET finale from Target Field.
Trevor Bauer (5-5, 5.85 ERA) will look for a third win in as many starts against Minnesota this season. The Twins will finally look to a non-southpaw in the series as right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-4, 6.79) will seek a fourth straight victory in the month of June.
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