Francisco Lindor sent a three-run screamer over the wall in right with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cleveland Indians a 5-2 walk-off victory on Wednesday night.
For much of the first eight innings, there was little excitement to cheer for, but the Indians saved the best for last with their third walk-off win of the season (and first since May 27), following a blown save by Cody Allen in the top of the inning.
Allen had location problems with his knuckle curve while working to his first batter in the ninth in a 2-1 game. On pitch four of the at bat, Miguel Sano launched a solo shot to right-center to tie the game. Allen had to work around a jam as Logan Forsythe singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch, but he would be caught in a run down on a comebacker to the mound from Logan Morrison. The Twins first baseman alertly moved to second in what was a closer play than anticipated, but after a walk by Mitch Garver, the pair were stranded on a strikeout by pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza.
Trevor Hildenberger, who had baffled the Indians with his changeup on Tuesday night, came on for the bottom half of the frame in the tied game. Rajai Davis struck out looking, but Jason Kipnis sat back on a change and drove it to left-center for a single. Yan Gomes flied deep to right-center, where Max Kepler made a leaping catch into the wall for the second out. Brandon Guyer singled to left to put the winning run 90 feet from the plate, and Lindor, who homered off of Hildenberger on Tuesday, jumped on a first pitch spinner and lined the pitch over the wall in right for the game-winning laser.
Lindor’s 29th homer of the season gave the Indians (63-50) a 5-2 victory over the Twins (53-60). It was the third walk-off hit and second walk-off homer of Lindor’s career. It also occurred one year to the day that Gomes defeated the Colorado Rockies with his own walk-off blast in a 4-1 win.
The Twins have now lost an unsettling eleven games in walk-off fashion this season.
The Indians took the early lead on the night in support of Mike Clevinger, who worked around a walk in the first. Lindor got the offense started with a double to center over the head of Jake Cave to lead off the home half of the first off of Jake Odorizzi. Michael Brantley hit another ball at Cave, who had the ball hit squarely in the mitt and pop back out for an error, putting runners on the corners. Jose Ramirez popped out to third for the first out, but Edwin Encarnacion came through with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Lindor from third to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Clevinger retired the side in order in the second, but got into some trouble in the third. Garver and Cave each singled to start the inning before a strikeout by Joe Mauer. Garver was picked off of second, which came up big as Eddie Rosario would single to center. With two on and two outs, Jorge Polanco stranded a pair with a pop up to short.
The Indians left a runner at third in the third as Ramirez singled with two outs, stole second, and motored to third on a throwing error by Garver. Encarnacion grounded out to third to leave him there.
The Twins made the missed opportunity stand out as they got to Clevinger in the fourth. Sano doubled to kick off the inning and came in one out later on a double to left-center by Forsythe to tie the game at one. Forsythe would advance to third on a groundout by Morrison, but would be stranded as Garver flied out to right.
Odorizzi pitched a perfect fourth and Clevinger followed with a quiet fifth of his own before the Tribe reclaimed the lead. Gomes started the rally with a single to right and moved to second on a nice bunt down the third base line from Guyer. Lindor grounded into a fielder’s choice, as Forsythe misplayed the ball briefly and only got the force at second. Brantley knocked in Gomes with a slow roller towards short, giving Cleveland a 2-1 edge. After an intentional walk of Ramirez, Odorizzi exited as Paul Molitor turned to Trevor May, who got Encarnacion to fly out with two on and two out.
Clevinger retired the final eleven batters that he faced to wrap up seven innings of one-run baseball, allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out five. He turned the game over to Brad Hand, who allowed a single to Mauer with one out in the eighth, but no further damage while striking out a pair and earning his third hold with Cleveland.
Odorizzi did not clear the fifth, as he was charged with two runs (one earned) on four hits with a pair of walks while not striking out any. Hildenberger took the loss and was charged with three runs on three hits while striking out one of the two batters that he retired on the night.
Lindor led the way for the Tribe at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a single, a homer, and three RBI. With two more runs scored, he pushed his Major League leading total to 99. Ramirez reached base three times, hitting a single while drawing a pair of walks. Guyer had a pair of hits out of the ninth spot in the lineup.
The pitching matchup of the series was reserved for the rubber match on Thursday in a 1:10 PM ET getaway day start time from Progressive Field. Corey Kluber (14-6, 2.63 ERA) is coming off of a complete game shutout his last time out over the Los Angeles Angels, earning him his first back-to-back winning decisions since May 30 – June 10. Fellow right-hander Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.51) will make his third start against Cleveland this season. He threw seven scoreless on April 18 in Puerto Rico in a no-decision and allowed four runs in six innings on June 1 while taking home a victory.
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