A seventh inning rally by the Indians knotted the game at two, but Brian Dozier homered off of Cody Allen to lead off the eighth and the Twins added another homer in the ninth as Minnesota claimed a 4-2 win in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
An impressive quality start from Corey Kluber was hurt by first inning defensive woes. Allen, making his first appearance since a paternity list trip and working on the day of his jersey giveaway at Progressive Field, gave up the go-ahead shot to Dozier just after the Indians had rallied and got a little luck on their side to push across the tying run in the seventh.
Just one pitch into the afternoon, things were not quite right for the Tribe with Kluber on the mound and Dozier at the plate. He grounded the first offering of the game up the middle to a waiting Jason Kipnis, whose throw to first pulled Carlos Santana away from the bag. Joe Mauer followed with a walk before Robbie Grossman doubled to deep right to put one run on the board and two runners in scoring position. The Indians hurt themselves further on a 2-0 pitch to Kennys Vargas, called a strike, that Yan Gomes fired down to third to attempt to nab Mauer off of the bag. The throw skipped past Jose Ramirez into left field, allowing Mauer to motor in to make it 2-0 Twins. Kluber would work out of the inning, getting a pair of outs around an intentional walk and a stolen base while also recording the first of many strikeouts that he would chalk up on the day.
The Indians had chances against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, but could not capitalize in the early innings. Two reached in the second on free passes, but a double play ball got Gibson out of trouble. He worked around a one-out single in the third by Austin Jackson with another double play.
That changed in the fourth when one of the driving forces of the Indians offense of late contributed with a big swing. With one down in the inning, Ramirez pulled a Gibson offering to right for a solo homer, his 12th of the season, to cut the deficit in half at 2-1. The Tribe would have Gibson on the ropes with back-to-back singles to follow from Edwin Encarnacion and Lonnie Chisenhall, but the Minnesota starter got Santana to fly to right and Gomes to pop to first in a big missed opportunity.
Kluber was locked in on the mound after the two unearned runs in the first. He struck out Chris Gimenez to end the first and struck out the side in the second before striking out the final two in the third and two more in the fourth. He did his part to keep his club in the game despite the defense faltering behind him in the early going.
The Indians had another chance to support their starter in the fifth but again came up short. After outs by Bradley Zimmer and Jackson, Francisco Lindor worked a five-pitch walk. Kipnis fouled off six pitches in a ten-pitch at bat before drawing a walk, bringing manager Paul Molitor out of the dugout to retrieve his starter and replace him with Tyler Duffey. With the tying run at second base, Duffey got Ramirez to ground into a force at second.
Kluber continued to deal as the game entered its second half. He struck out one in the sixth and two more in the seventh to send his teammates back to the plate. After several missed opportunities, they delivered for him as Matt Belisle got into trouble quickly in the frame. Gomes singled to right before a fly ball from Zimmer for the first out. Jackson singled to left to move the tying run into scoring position. Down 0-2, Lindor grounded towards first. Vargas fired to second to get the force of Jackson, but the return throw to first was ill-advised as Belisle’s footwork at the bag was bad and he had to reach behind him and missed the ball. Gomes scored from third on the error to knot the game up at two. Taylor Rogers came in to stop the bleeding but allowed Kipnis to reach on a single to short. With another opportunity with the tying run in scoring position, Ramirez could not deliver as he again grounded to short to end the inning.
It looked to be a brand new ball game as Allen entered in relief of Kluber after his stellar performance. But the tides quickly turned on the Tribe as Dozier pulled his hands in on a 3-2 fastball and parked one onto the Home Run Porch for a game-changing solo shot. The Indians would do nothing against Rogers in the eighth and former friend of the feather Gimenez hurt his three-time employer as he added a big insurance run with a solo homer to left off of Zach McAllister with one out in the ninth to make it a 4-2 game.
Cleveland would bring the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth against Minnesota closer Brandon Kintzler, but after Lindor doubled with two down, Kipnis lined out to close the ball game.
Allen took his third loss of the season after giving up the solo homer in the eighth. Rogers, who worked an inning and one-third of scoreless relief, vultured his fourth win of the season. The save for Kintzler was number 20 of the season.
Walks were the big undoing for Gibson, who did not factor in the decision despite exiting with the lead. He threw 93 pitches in four and two-thirds innings, with just 48 crossing for strikes. He allowed four hits, but walked four more batters, and gave up the solo homer to Ramirez.
Kluber struck out a season-high 13 batters in his seven innings. He left the game after seven full innings worked, allowing two unearned runs in the first on three total hits with a pair of walks (including one intentional) in the outing. His fifth consecutive quality start of the month and since his return from the disabled list kept the Indians in a position to win. He threw 73 of 106 pitches for strikes, including 17 first pitch strikes to the 27 batters that he faced in three trips through the order and he induced 14 swinging strikes in the outing.
The Indians’ (39-34) lead over the Twins (38-34) has dwindled to just a half-game with back-to-back losses to the second place team in the American League Central with the Kansas City Royals hard-charging in the third spot. The home woes continued for the Tribe as they dropped to 15-19 at Progressive Field this season.
Cleveland will look to avoid the sweep on Sunday afternoon as Minnesota looks to return the Indians’ gesture from just one weekend ago. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (4-8, 6.07 ERA), known in the past as being a pitcher the club wanted on the mound to stop losing skids, will stare down that task once again. He will have to limit the long ball in order move above the .500 mark against the Twins in his career, as he enters with a 5-5 record, a 5.13 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP in 16 appearances. Ervin Santana (9-4, 2.97) has had some trouble with taters in June, giving up seven so far in the month while allowing five runs or more in three of his outings. He has faced the Indians twice already this season, allowing just a run on six hits and eight walks over 13 innings of work.
First pitch of the series finale from Progressive Field is scheduled for a 1:10 PM ET first pitch. Follow the action locally on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio or on Fox Sports North for those out of market.
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