The Tribe won big last night as Cleveland used a big scoring outburst in the middle innings to oust the Minnesota Twins by an 8-1 final in the series opener from Progressive Field on Tuesday.
Carlos Carrasco handled the Twins with ease throughout the night as he cruised to his 16th win of the season, tying him for second in the American League. He blanked the Twins over seven and two-thirds innings, allowing four hits and a pair of walks while striking out eleven and leaving with a comfortable lead just after throwing 100 pitches.
Kyle Gibson was on the mound for the Twins, making his third start of the season against the Indians, but after surviving the first trip through the Cleveland lineup, he was hit hard in the third as the Tribe took the lead in the bottom of the third. It was back-to-back one-out singles from Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley that started the rally. With runners on the corners, Jose Ramirez knocked home a run with a sacrifice fly to center, aided by a curious cutoff attempt gone wrong by third baseman Miguel Sano. Edwin Encarnacion made it 2-0 with a single to left-center before Yonder Alonso grounded into a force to end the frame.
Gibson lost the strike zone in the fourth, leading to another run. He walked Melky Cabrera and Jason Kipnis to start the inning before Yan Gomes grounded out for the first out. Greg Allen grounded softly to Sano at third for the second out, but Cabrera crossed the plate safely to make it a 3-0 Indians lead.
Gibson stranded runners on the corners in the fifth, but pitched into trouble again in the sixth in his final inning of work. Kipnis reached on bunt single to third and Gomes dropped in a single to right to put runners on the corners. Another groundout by Allen, this one a fielder’s choice force at second, drove in a run, making it a 4-0 game and sending manager Paul Molitor to the mound for reliever Gabriel Moya. He took over with Allen at first and gave up a single to Lindor before Brantley lined to left. Ramirez delivered the big blow, hitting a two-run double to left-center to make it 6-0, and Encarnacion plated him with a single to left to give the Indians a commanding 7-0 lead.
Carrasco had little resistance throughout the night. Joe Mauer singled to start the game, but the Indians starter got three straight outs to leave a runner at first. He had a 1-2-3 second and had to work a little with two outs in the third when Mauer doubled to right with two outs and Logan Forsythe walked, but Eddie Rosario was retired on a fly to center to strand a pair. Max Kepler singled with one out in the fourth, but Carrasco struck out a pair to escape unharmed again.
Carrasco had a different kind of scare in the fifth, when with one out, Ehire Adrianza sent a screamer back towards the right-hander. The ball glanced off of his glove towards Kipnis, but Carrasco was unharmed. He recovered to strike out all three outs of the frame to give him five straight innings with a K.
“It didn’t sound good,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said of Adrianza’s liner. “I was so relieved when it was his glove. He turned around and told us right away that it hit his glove, but I had my momentum going that direction so I kept going just to check on him.”
He made it six straight when he struck out Tyler Austin to end the sixth, working around another one-out base runner after a walk by Sano. He struck out Jake Cave to start the seventh in another 1-2-3 frame and he ended his night with eight straight innings with a strikeout by whiffing Forsythe swinging for the second out.
Brad Hand got in some work in relief that inning, giving up a single to Rosario and a walk to Sano before striking out Kepler.
The Indians added another run in garbage time against Alan Busenitz. Lindor reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error. He was lifted for pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez, who moved to third on a single by Brantley. Ramirez popped to third for the first out, but pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz delivered a fielder’s choice to Busenitz, pushing across Gonzalez to make it 8-0.
Dan Otero came on for the final inning, retiring the first batter that he faced before giving up a solo homer to right-center to Cave to make it 8-1. Mitch Garver singled to keep the inning going, but Otero got the next two batters to wrap up play.
The Indians moved to 75-56 on the season and 40-24 at home. The road woes continued for the Twins, who dropped to 61-70 on the season and 22-41 away from Target Field. The Twins have dropped four straight and are now 14 games in back of Cleveland in the AL Central.
Gibson dropped to 7-11 on the year with the defeat, his second of the season against the Tribe. He lasted five and one-third innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Moya was tagged with two earned runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Five different Indians batters had multi-hit games, led by Lindor’s 4-for-5 effort at the plate with four singles and two runs scored. Brantley had three base knocks, and both Encarnacion and Kipnis reached with two singles and a walk. Ramirez had a single and a double while driving in three. The big returns from the left side of the infield were promising for the Tribe after a rough road trip from both Lindor and Ramirez.
“You know they’re going to hit, but it’s still nice to see,” shared Francona. “Frankie stayed in the middle of the field. Josey hit one ball good, another ball he got a hit because he beat it out.”
Game two of the three-game set from downtown Cleveland is set for a 7:10 PM ET first pitch on Wednesday night. Right-hander Adam Plutko (4-4, 5.09 ERA) will look to get back into the win column after dropping each of his starts since returning to the rotation for the injured Trevor Bauer. The Twins will send Kohl Stewart (0-1, 6.94) to the mound in his fourth start of the year. Command of the strike zone has eluded the 23-year-old former 2013 first rounder since he was called up from Triple-A Rochester.
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