Home Run Barrage Powers Tribe Past Twins; Indians 8, Twins 1

The Indians hit their targets repeatedly at Target Field on Tuesday night as five home runs provided plenty of support for starter Danny Salazar in an 8-1 Home Run Derby rout of the Minnesota Twins.

In arguably its biggest road trip and most important series to date this season, Cleveland continued its dominance off of the shores of the Mississippi River as the Tribe bats were alive and well, guiding the Indians to a fifth straight victory in game number six of an eleven-game road trip. The demoralizing way in which they defeated the Twins in the series opener involved an effective balance of power hitting and power pitching as the Indians extended their lead in the American League Central Division to six games over the second place Twins.

The Indians have made Target Field their home away from home in 2017, as the club is now a perfect 8-0 in Minnesota this season.

Cleveland actually trailed in the ball game before rattling off eight unanswered runs. The Indians had their early chances, stranding a runner on third in the first and failing to score after loading the bases with nobody out in the second against former friend of the feather, Bartolo Colon.

After dodging the big scoring threat, the Twins got a big two-out hit from Byron Buxton. Eddie Rosario doubled to right on a pitch high in the zone with one down, then scored on the two-out single by Buxton to give Minnesota the early lead. After the Buxton hit, Salazar was locked in on the mound, striking out four straight and retiring 12 in a row.

Salazar struck out the side in the bottom of the third before his offense evened up the score. Carlos Santana continued his big night at the plate, following his second inning walk with a clout to right that exited the ball park for a leadoff solo homer off of the 44-year-old Colon to knot the game at one.

Jackson - Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Jackson – Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Indians took their first lead of the night in the fifth and would continue to pile on. Jason Kipnis stepped in to lead off the inning and for the second straight stanza, the Tribe started things off with a solo homer. After a fly to left by Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion sent a ball somewhere into shallow orbit, eventually coming to a stop deep in the second deck to extend the Indians’ lead to 3-1.

Colon exited after five for reliever Alan Busenitz, who had an easy sixth and retired the first two in the seventh before manager Paul Molitor went to his bullpen for lefty Buddy Boshers. The southpaw would not have the same kind of success on the mound as he walked the first batter he faced, Jay Bruce, before the newly acquired veteran stole second and moved to third on a dribbler in front of the plate by Santana that he legged out for his second hit of the game. The next pitch was drilled over the wall in left by Austin Jackson, doubling the Indians score to 6-1.

Salazar was nearly unhittable in his final five innings of work, giving up only a two-out double to Max Kepler in the bottom of the sixth after the Buxton hit. He would turn the game over to the bullpen, allowing Dan Otero and Zach McAllister a chance to throw scoreless perfect innings of relief. For good measure, the offense tacked on two more in the top of the ninth with another big two-out hit as Bruce doubled softly through the shifted left side of the infield and Santana hit his second homer of the night, taking rookie Dietrich Enns to right for a two-run shot to make it an 8-1 final.

The Twins dropped to 59-58 in defeat and maintained their poor play at home this season. One of the worst home field clubs in the Majors this season, they are now 27-34 when enjoying home cooking.

Santana had a perfect day at the plate, reaching all five trips to the batter’s box with a single, two walks, and a pair of home runs. He also climbed the all-time Target Field homer list with his multi-homer game. He has 18 homers on the season and has hit 14 homers at the Twins’ home in his career. Encarnacion has now homered in three straight games.

Salazar & Gomes - Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Salazar & Gomes – Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Salazar (5-5) is now 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA and 46 strikeouts in his five starts since coming off of the disabled list, a span of 32 1/3 innings. He worked seven innings, allowing just the one run on three hits. After struggling with his command some in his last start in Tampa, he was in full control on Tuesday, striking out ten and not issuing a walk.

Colon (2-2) took his second defeat of the season in a Twins uniform. He lasted five innings, giving up three runs (all on solo homers) and seven hits in total. He walked four, struck out three (including the slumping Bradley Zimmer twice), and balked in the first inning, the first time that he had done so in a contest since 2005 (h/t ESPN).

Game two from the Twin Cities is scheduled for an 8:10 PM ET first pitch on Wednesday night. Minnesota will call upon right-hander Kyle Gibson (6-9, 6.02 ERA), who has had no luck against the Indians this season. In three starts against them this year, he is 0-2. Cleveland will counter with right-hander Carlos Carrasco (11-5, 3.83), who will look to build on a much better effort his last time out. After giving up five runs in consecutive starts, he flirted with a no-hitter and allowed just two hits in Tampa Bay in the second game of the road trip.

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

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