Ryan LaMarre lined a single to center in the bottom of the 16th inning to score the winning run as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Cleveland Indians by a 2-1 final from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
Fans in San Juan have waited since 2010 for Major League Baseball to return to the island. They were rewarded for their patience with a well-pitched game from one of the commonwealth’s young heroes, Jose Berrios, and Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, and even got seven innings of bonus baseball before the Twins delivered the walk-off hit after a costly error in the 16th by Jason Kipnis.
With Josh Tomlin on the mound in his second inning of emergency duty for the Tribe, Minnesota got a leadoff single from local Eddie Rosario. Logan Morrison sent a chopper towards Kipnis at second, but the Indians’ second baseman could not field the ball, allowing Rosario to motor to third on the error. Eduardo Escobar was intentionally walked to set up a force at the plate, but LaMarre, getting his fourth at bat off of the bench for the Twins, lined his third hit of the game into center field to score Rosario with the winning run, giving Minnesota a 2-1 win.
The error spoiled an unbelievable game marred by a lack of clutch hitting and filled with impressive pitching on both sides. The game had remained scoreless through 13 innings before the Indians finally broke through with the first run of the ball game. After Taylor Rogers completed his evening by getting Michael Brantley to ground out to second to start the 14th inning, Trevor Hildenberger entered in relief for Minnesota manager Paul Molitor. Edwin Encarnacion worked the count full before lining a rocket off of the foul pole in left field to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
The lead would be just temporary. Former Twins closer Matt Belisle, the eighth Cleveland pitcher to enter the game, came on for the save in the bottom of the 14th, but on his very first pitch, Miguel Sano blasted a leadoff shot to left to tie the game at one all.
Dominant quality pitching on both sides was the story through much of the night as neither club could do a thing with runners in scoring position. The Indians stranded a pair in the first inning against Minnesota starter and Puerto Rico’s own Berrios after singles by Kipnis and Brantley. Tyler Naquin singled with two down in the second but was stranded.
The Twins left Brian Dozier at second in the home half against Cleveland’s Carrasco after he led off the first with a single and later stole a base. Jason Castro singled with one out in the bottom of the third, but advanced no further. The Twins put on a pair in the fifth, as Max Kepler singled with one out and Robbie Grossman walked before Carrasco struck out Castro and Dozier to avoid a big threat.
The Indians’ starter would retire the final eight batters that he faced. After Naquin’s hit, Berrios was even more impossible to hit, as he would retire 16 straight Indians hitters to end his outing.
Cleveland had a chance in the eighth, when Bradley Zimmer singled with two outs against Addison Reed, a pitcher who the Indians have done damage against several times in the past. Zimmer stole second base, but Francisco Lindor’s rough night at the plate continued as he struck out swinging with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
The Tribe put two more runners on in the ninth against Fernando Rodney as Brantley and Encarnacion each singled with two outs, but Yonder Alonso fouled out to third and splintered his bat in anger at the plate. They squandered another chance in the tenth against Zach Duke, as Puerto Rican native Roberto Perez reached on a two-base error by Dozier, but pinch-hitter Greg Allen could not get down a bunt and neither Brandon Guyer nor Kipnis could drive in pinch-runner Rajai Davis.
The Indians bullpen did a stellar job early on to prevent base runners. Andrew Miller threw a perfect eighth, striking out a pair. Zach McAllister retired a pair in the ninth before Tyler Olson finished the frame and struck out each of the two men he faced in the tenth. Dan Otero entered and allowed the first Twins base runner since the fifth with a two-out single by LaMarre before striking out Grossman.
Cleveland continued to miss out on opportunities. Jose Ramirez singled to start the eleventh against Ryan Pressly before Brantley grounded into a double play. Otero gave up a two-out double to Joe Mauer, who turned 35 when the clock struck midnight, in the bottom half, but got Sano to ground out to end another Minnesota scoring chance. In the 12th against Pressley, Alonso singled to start the frame and was lifted for pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez, who moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a groundout by Gomes, but Guyer grounded to Sano, who fired a strike across the diamond for the third out.
Cody Allen took his turn on the mound in the bottom of the 12th and had to work out of a tight jam. Rosario, in front of plenty of family and friends, singled and moved to third one out later on a single by Escobar. Allen buckled down and struck out LaMarre and got Grossman to line to Lindor at short to end the inning.
Both teams went down in order in the 13th before hitting matching solo shots in the 14th.
Each club had a shot in the 15th to take the lead. Gomes doubled off of Hildenberger to start the inning before Alan Busenitz came on and hit Guyer in the head with a breaking ball. With two on and nobody out, Lindor struck out swinging and Kipnis grounded into a double play. Tomlin came on in relief for the Indians and got the first two outs in the air before Mauer singled to right. He moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a wild throw by Gomes, but Sano flied out to center to leave the winning run at third base. Against Busenitz in the 16th, Ramirez walked to lead off the inning before Brantley fouled out behind the plate. Encarnacion struck out swinging for the second out before Gonzalez singled to left, but Davis struck out swinging to send the game to its conclusion in the bottom half.
With the loss, the Indians drop to 9-7 on the season and are now just 3-5 on the road this season. The Twins (8-5) move back ahead of the Indians by a half game in the American League Central Division.
NATIVE SON SHINES
Berrios was fantastic on the mound for the Twins, failing to get caught up in the apparent emotions of his situation. A native of nearby Bayamon, the 23-year-old right-hander was showered with ovations throughout the game.
He worked seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with no walks while striking out five batters. He got the hook somewhat surprisingly after just 84 pitches thrown, with 57 of them crossing for strikes.
CARRASCO CONTAINS TWINS
As good as Berrios was on the mound, Carrasco was just as impressive. He matched Berrios’ performance with seven shutout innings of three-hit baseball. He threw 98 pitches, 70 for strikes, and worked ahead in the count with first pitch strikes to 20 of the 25 batters that he faced. He struck out seven and issued one walk.
Neither team could recall how to hit with runners in scoring position.
The Cleveland lineup combined to go 0-for-12 at the plate while leaving a dozen runners on base. Kipnis, Davis, Guyer, and Lindor were all 0-for-2 in run scoring opportunities. After playing the hometown hero on Tuesday, Lindor went 0-for-6 on Wednesday night with four strikeouts and a walk. Perez, from the Puerto Rican city of Mayaguez, went 1-for-4 with a single before being lifted for a pinch-runner.
The Minnesota bats were not much better, going 1-for-9 at the plate with runners in scoring position, with the lone hit leading to the winning run. Morrison went 0-for-7 with a pair of strikeouts and Grossman was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a walk. The Twins stranded 14 men on base.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Wednesday’s game marked the first time that a game had completed 13 innings with no score since June 5, 2013.
Last April, there was one game that reached the 14th inning. There were two on Wednesday night alone, counting Oakland’s 12-11 win over the Chicago White Sox in 14. There have been six games of 14 or more innings already this April.
The game also marked the longest MLB game held in the regular season at Estadio Hiram Bithorn. On June 5, 2003, the Montreal Expos and Anaheim Angels played 14 interleague innings. Former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, then a pitcher for the Angels, allowed the walk-off single to the Expos’ Ron Calloway, scoring future Indians infielder Orlando Cabrera, ending the team’s five-game losing streak. (h/t to the Callaway fact to @AndrewSimonMLB)
Both clubs will take the day off on Thursday for travel before kicking off their next series. The Twins will head to Tampa Bay to take on the Rays for three games, beginning Friday night. The Indians will head to Baltimore to face the Orioles in their own four-game AL East battle.
First pitch from Oriole Park at Camden Yards is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Friday.
Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/Getty Images