Brandon Guyer pitched for the Cleveland Indians in the ninth inning on Saturday afternoon. If you need an explanation a little bit more specific as to whether or not the Tribe won on Saturday, the answer was a definitive ‘no’.
The Twins rode another big game from Eddie Rosario against Indians pitching this season as Minnesota took an early lead, knocked out Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco after he was struck by a line drive in the second inning, and raced to another win to take its fifth straight game over the Indians this season and its sixth this year in eight tries.
It was a wild first inning for both clubs as the Twins took a sizeable lead in their first trip to the plate as the top of the lineup began what would be a 10-for-16 effort at the plate with the bulk of the run production for the day. Minnesota, which used an aggressive approach in the series opener with the Indians and Corey Kluber on Friday night, did the opposite with Carrasco, who needed 37 pitches to retire the first three outs of the day.
Joe Mauer kicked off the contest with a single to center before a walk by Rosario, who would reach base five times in total on the afternoon. Eduardo Escobar continued his hot start to June with a double to right-center, scoring both base runners to give Minnesota the early lead while extending his hitting streak to six games. Logan Morrison was hit by a pitch before Carrasco got the first out, striking out Brian Dozier swinging. A single from Robbie Grossman loaded the bases for Max Kepler, who doubled to right to plate two more runs. Carrasco got a needed grounder from Ehire Adrianza, with Grossman thrown out at the plate for the second, and struck out Bobby Wilson looking to end the grueling frame.
It looked like it was going to be one of those wild and wacky days at Progressive Field as the Indians cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the first. Greeting Fernando Romero, the Twins’ rookie right-hander making his first appearance against Cleveland in his career, Francisco Lindor hit another leadoff home run to put the Indians on the board. After Michael Brantley grounded out to first, Jose Ramirez hit home run number 21 of the season, drilling the eighth pitch of his at bat over the wall in right to cut the Twins’ lead to 4-2. Romero settled down, getting two more groundouts to end the inning.
The afternoon changed dramatically for the Indians in the second when Mauer lined the second pitch of the inning off of Carrasco’s right arm. The ball ricocheted to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who retired his counterpart, but Carrasco hopped off of the mound, threw his glove, and sank to the ground on all fours in clear pain.
Carrasco would come out of the game, forcing manager Terry Francona to go to the unreliable bullpen for extended use. Oliver Perez was the first man summoned and he gave up a single to Rosario, who stole second before Escobar lined out to center. With the inning hanging in the balance, Morrison doubled to center, making it a 5-2 game. Dozier grounded out to end the inning, but the Twins had gotten one key run back.
Romero worked around a leadoff single by Yan Gomes in the second before a double play ball later in the inning prevented further damage. After a 1-2-3 inning from Perez in the third, the Tribe wasted an opportunity to cut into the score after getting back-to-back singles from Lindor and Brantley. Ramirez grounded into a force at second and, with runners on the corners and two outs, Encarnacion flied out.
The Indians would score a third run off of Romero in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 5-3 game. Jason Kipnis started the frame with a five-pitch walk before Gomes struck out swinging. Lonnie Chisenhall moved him to third with a double to right and a sacrifice fly from Tyler Naquin gave the Tribe their third run. With another runner still standing at third, Erik Gonzalez lined out to third.
Zach McAllister dodged a bases loaded mess in the top of the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth to save the Indians bullpen. He left after two batters in the sixth, giving up a double to Adrianza before a sacrifice by Wilson. Tyler Olson replaced him on the mound and walked Mauer before Rosario delivered with an RBI-single. Escobar struck out for the second out, but a two-run double by Morrison, aided by a throwing error by Chisenhall, made it an 8-3 game. Dan Otero left Morrison at third, getting a groundout from Dozier.
Staring down a significant hole in the run column, the Indians could not get anything done against the Twins bullpen. Matt Magill entered in the fifth for Romero and retired the first six batters that he faced on outs in the air. He hit Chisenhall with a pitch to start the seventh before getting two more outs via fly ball and a strikeout of Gonzalez.
The Twins added another in the eighth against Adam Plutko, who was originally scheduled to pitch for the Indians on Sunday afternoon. He retired the first five batters that he faced before Rosario took him deep to right-center with his fourth hit of the game, making it a 9-3 game. Escobar would be stranded at first after his two-out single.
With the Indians down to their final six outs, they would threaten but would be unable to inch any closer. Former Tribe pitcher Matt Belisle loaded the bases in the home half of the eighth after two men were out, giving up three straight singles to Encarnacion, Kipnis, and Gomes before Chisenhall flied out. Ryan Pressly worked a much easier ninth, giving up a leadoff double into the left field corner to Naquin (who extended his hitting streak to ten straight games) before striking out the next three batters swinging.
The Twins moved to 31-36 on the year and 14-19 on the road with the win. They have now won the first two games of the series with the Tribe and five straight, dating back to their three wins at Target Field to open the month. The Indians dropped to 36-33 and are now 20-13 at home this season.
For the third time in his career, Carrasco had to leave a start after being struck by a line drive. The initial diagnosis was a forearm contusion for the Tribe’s veteran right-hander, but the team will know more in the coming days. He left the field after being hit on the right forearm near the elbow by a Mauer liner that left a notable lump at the site of impact.
“From where I was standing, I thought it might have hit him in the face, so there was a little bit of a sense of relief, but it caught him right kind of on that funny bone,” shared Francona after the game. “He was hurting.”
While the team has called it a contusion, Carrasco was at the hospital undergoing further examinations after the game.
Guyer made his first professional pitching appearance in the ninth inning, getting three outs on eight pitches.
“I was a pretty good pitcher back in the day,” Guyer shared after the game. “I had elbow surgery when I was 12 that ended the pitching days.”
MAGILL EARNS WIN
Romero was unable to return for the fifth inning after the Indians damaged him for three runs on six hits in four innings. He threw 43 of 63 pitches for strikes in his short performance.
Magill earned his second win of the season after working three perfect innings in relief, striking out one. Belisle pitched a scoreless inning against his former club, giving up three hits but striking out one, while Pressly worked an impressive final inning with three strikeouts around one hit.
Rosario has made a career of destroying Indians pitching and Saturday was no exception. He would reach base in all five trips, walking in his first at bat before jumping on the first pitch of the remaining four at bats that he had for hits. He hit his 16th homer in addition to a pair of singles and a double.
His big day at the plate pushed his season numbers against Cleveland to a .471 average with six home runs and eleven runs batted in.
AVOID THE SWEEP
The Indians changed up the game plan drastically for Sunday afternoon when they turned to Plutko for a pair of relief innings on Saturday. The club will now recall right-hander Shane Bieber (0-0, 6.35 ERA) from Triple-A Columbus to make the spot start in the finale with the Twins, while Minnesota will send out veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 4.19). Bieber’s first big league start on May 31 came in a no-decision against the Twins, while Odorizzi has been hit hard in a pair of outings against Clevelald this season.
First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET on Sunday.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images