Left-handed Twins pitching contained the Indians for seven innings and a three-batter outburst in the second provided Minnesota with all that they would need in a 3-2 win in Cleveland on Tuesday.
The Indians had no answer again for Adalberto Mejia, who shut down Cleveland for the second straight start. Carlos Carrasco kept the Twins in check for much of the night, but the first three batters of the second frame made the difference in the contest.
After enduring a two hour and ten minute rain delay, both teams put up threats in the first inning but could not deliver. The Twins loaded the bases with back-to-back one-out singles from Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco and a two-out walk by Miguel Sano, but Max Kepler grounded out to second. In the home half, Cleveland got a leadoff single from Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley was hit by a pitch, but the 3-4-5 part of the lineup could not bring home a runner.
The game shifted in the Twins’ favor in the second. Logan Forsythe was hit by a pitch and Jake Cave singled to put two on. The final Twins pitcher of Monday’s contest, catcher Mitch Garver, pounded a four-seamer into the bleachers for a three-run shot to give Minnesota an early lead.
Yonder Alonso walked to lead off the bottom of the second and moved into scoring position, but Mejia shut down the Tribe bats, retiring 12 straight hitters before being lifted in the sixth after spraining his left wrist.
Carrasco continued to allow base runners, but shut down the path back to the plate. Forsythe singled with two outs in the third, Rosario doubled in the fourth, and Forsythe singled again in the sixth before being doubled up on a 1-6-3 comebacker, leaving the score at 3-0.
With Mejia off of the mound, the Indians were able to find the bases again. Gabriel Moya took over in the bottom of the sixth, giving up a one-out single to Brantley and a two-out walk to Edwin Encarnacion. Brandon Guyer could not deliver, as he flied to left to end the inning.
Carrasco came back out for the seventh, but left with one out after giving up a double to Rosario for his fourth hit of the ball game. Andrew Miller came on and got an unusual out as Polanco was ruled out on batter’s interference on an attempted steal of third base by Rosario. Morrison grounded to second to strand a runner in scoring position.
Miller worked a second frame in the eighth, allowing a two-out walk to Forsythe, who reached safely for the third time on the night. The Indians bats then got to work against the first right-hander out of the Minnesota bullpen, Trevor Hildenberger. Lindor led off the inning with a solo shot to the bleachers in right-center to get the Tribe on the scoreboard. Brantley singled and after a strikeout by Jose Ramirez, Encarnacion singled to right to put runners on the corners. Leonys Martin pinch-hit for Guyer and lofted a sacrifice fly to center to cut the deficit to one, but with the tying run at first, Alonso struck out swinging.
Neil Ramirez worked a scoreless ninth before the Indians threatened one final time. Closer Fernando Rodney took his place in the center of the diamond and gave up an infield single to a hustling Gomes. With the tying run on base again, Jason Kipnis struck out for the first out. Melky Cabrera pinch-hit for Rajai Davis, but flied to right for the second out. Gomes moved into scoring position on a passed ball by Garver, but Lindor was called out on a two-seamer in under the hands for the final out of the game.
The Twins moved to 53-59 on the season and 8-6 on the year. The Indians dropped to 62-50 with 50 games left on the slate.
Mejia earned his second win of the season in his fifth outing. He worked five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out three. It marked his second straight game of five innings or more with just one hit allowed against the Indians. While he has not pitched deep into games in his small sample size this season, he may have gone further into the contest if not for the last slider he threw.
“He came off the field and said the last pitch he threw he had a stinging effect in the lower left forearm closer to the wrist that radiated up to the elbow,” said Molitor. “There was some swelling in the area. I don’t think we will make a decision on his next start until we can look at him tomorrow.”
Rodney’s scoreless ninth earned him his 25th save of the campaign and the 325th of his career.
Carrasco took a tough loss in a quality start. He allowed three runs in a hurry and ten hits in total on the day with a walk while striking out eight Twins batters over six and one-third innings. The bullpen behind him allowed just a hit and a walk in two and two-thirds innings with three strikeouts.
The Twins had a big night at the plate from Rosario, who went 4-for-5 with two singles and two doubles, but he did not factor in any scoring. All of that came on Garver’s sixth homer of the year. Polanco and Forsythe each had a pair of hits.
The Indians mustered just six hits on the game, with four coming from the top two spots in the lineup in Lindor and Brantley. Lindor had yet another multi-hit game and added his 28th homer of the season.
The Twins placed former Indians reliever Matt Belisle on the 10-day disabled list prior to the game with a sore right knee. Reliever Matt Magill was activated from the paternity list to fill the open roster spot.
Game three of the four-game series from Progressive Field is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET start on Wednesday night.
Mike Clevinger (7-7, 3.48 ERA) will look for his second career win against the Twins in his ninth overall appearance (sixth start) against them. Jake Odorizzi (4-7, 4.60) will counter for the Twins. He has not earned a win in a month, last defeating Baltimore on July 8.
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