Kipnis Goes Deep as Tribe Takes Season Series from Twins; Indians 5, Twins 3

Jason Kipnis hit a three-run home run in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie and the Cleveland Indians held on for a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon.

It was a needed and timely contribution from the Tribe’s scuffling second baseman in the sixth inning that turned the tides for good in Cleveland’s favor as the team overcame a 2-1 deficit in a four-run frame. The 13th homer of the season for the struggling middle infielder backed a quality effort from Mike Clevinger, who won his tenth game of the year after allowing just two unearned runs on the day.

The Indians were held silent in the first three innings, as Kipnis was the only base runner to reach against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi the first time through the order. He led off the bottom of the third with a double to left and moved to third on a sacrifice from Roberto Perez, but Greg Allen struck out swinging and Francisco Lindor grounded to second to end the brief threat.

Clevinger retired the first five batters of his outing before a two-out single in the second by Mitch Garver. He rebounded by retiring five in a row again before Eddie Rosario reached on an infield single with one down in the fourth. Clevinger, already with four strikeouts under his belt at the time, left Rosario at first by striking out Miguel Sano and Max Kepler swinging.

Kipnis – Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Indians sent six men to the plate in the fourth to take the lead. Michael Brantley doubled to lead off the inning and, after a fly out by Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion knocked him home with a single to right. Cleveland got another runner on with a one-out walk by Yonder Alonso before Odorizzi retired the next two.

Clevinger would be hit for a pair of unearned runs in the fifth as the Twins took the lead. Garver reached on an error by Ramirez at third. Clevinger responded with a pair of swinging strikeouts of Jake Cave and Tyler Austin, but Ehire Adrianza jumped on a 2-0 pitch and sent a drive to The Corner in right for a two-out, two-run home run to put the Twins on top, 2-1.

The Indians went down in order in the fifth and Clevinger gave up just a single to Robbie Grossman in the top of the sixth before the Tribe bats broke free with a big inning, aided when Odorizzi lost the strike zone. After a pop out to second by Brantley to start the home half of the sixth, Ramirez and Encarnacion each drew walks, sending the Twins starter to the showers. Alan Busenitz came on in relief for manager Paul Molitor, but he allowed the tying run to cross as Alonso singled Ramirez home with a shot to left-center. Melky Cabrera flied to right for the second out, but Kipnis caught a 96 MPH 2-2 four-seamer and pulled it to right, just clearing the wall for a crushing three-run blast, putting the Indians back in front, 5-2.

Clevinger left with two down in the seventh after a line out and a strikeout were followed by a walk of Austin. Oliver Perez entered from the bullpen in right-center and struck out Adrianza to leave the runner standing at first.

The Indians threatened again in the seventh against former Cleveland right-hander Oliver Drake. He got two quick groundouts before Brantley doubled to right. He moved to third on a wild pitch before a walk by Ramirez, who would move up into scoring position on a stolen base. Encarnacion could not deliver a potential back-breaker, instead grounding out to third to end the inning.

Perez came back out for the eighth and added another strikeout to his stat sheet before turning the ball over to Cody Allen. He walked the first batter, Logan Forsythe, and received some boos from the hometown crowd, but he bounced back by getting Grossman to fly to right. Forsythe was then caught straying too far off of first on a nice pick behind the plate by Perez of an Allen pitch to Sano, and a run down ended with an Allen tag out to end the inning.

Gabriel Moya retired the Indians in order in the eighth to bring his Twins teammates back to the plate for one last hope. Closer Brad Hand entered in the save situation and ran into a tough competitor in Sano, who won the battle by driving a 3-2 fastball to right-center for a solo home run. Hand struck out Kepler before walking Garver, but with the tying runs coming to the plate, Cave struck out looking and Austin did the same as the Indians claimed the season series, 10-9, with a 5-3 win.

Clevinger – Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Indians returned to the win column, moving to 76-57 on the season. The Twins dropped to 62-71 on the year and 23-42 away from home.

Clevinger moved to 10-7 on the season with six and two-thirds innings of two-run ball. Neither fifth inning run was earned as he allowed just four hits and a walk while striking out nine in a 114-pitch effort. Perez and Allen each earned holds, while Hand’s save was his sixth with the Tribe. The All-Star left-hander now has 30 saves combined between his time with San Diego and Cleveland.

Odorizzi’s fifth start against the Tribe proved no different for the veteran right-hander, as he was hit with his ninth loss of the season. He lasted five and one-third innings, allowing three runs on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Busenitz gave up the biggest blow, as he was charged with two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning with what proved to be the deciding runs.

Kipnis went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer, a run scored, and three runs scored. Brantley had a pair of doubles and scored a run. Ramirez went 0-for-2 with two walks and had to stare down an unusual defensive alignment against him in the first inning, when Molitor deployed a four-man outfield against the MVP candidate, shifting the infield heavy to the right while moving the shortstop Adrianza to left.

“It shows you the impact Josey is having against the league,” shared Tribe manager Terry Francona after the game. “But if teams do that, Josey’s going to bunt a double. Josey’ll end up on second, one way or another.”

Adrianza hit his sixth homer of the season in the fifth to put the Twins up, while Sano kept the threat alive in the ninth with his 13th of the campaign. Jorge Polanco missed his third straight game with leg cramps.

The Twins made a minor roster moving involving a player who had spent time in both Cleveland and Minnesota organizations, as they reacquired catcher/reliever Chris Gimenez and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs for Bobby Wilson, who had served the Twins as their starting catcher after losing Jason Castro to a season-ending injury.

The Indians will get back to action Friday when they welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to town for a three-game weekend series. Corey Kluber (16-7, 2.91 ERA) will look to reclaim the team lead in wins against new Tampa right-hander Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 4.18), who came over as part of the return from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade at the end of July.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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