Tribe Scores Four in Eleventh to Stun Twins; Indians 6, Twins 2
Bob Toth | On 07, Sep 2019
For the second straight game for the Cleveland Indians at Target Field, the Tribe used a four-run frame in extra innings to knock off the Minnesota Twins, this time skipping the Carlos Santana grand slam and instead using three separate RBI base knocks with two men out to stun the host club in a 6-2 final.
A game dominated by solid starting pitching on both sides of the field was decided by the bullpens in eleven innings. The Indians sent ten men to the plate in the eleventh, putting up four hits while plating four runs with two men out to earn a much-needed win in the first of six games remaining between Cleveland and Minnesota in the month of September. The Tribe, desperate for every win possible as they look to remain in the mix in the American League Central race as well as the AL Wild Card chase, pulled off the stunning win for their fifth win against the Twins in their last six contests.
Lewis Thorpe, who retired the final batter of the tenth, returned to the mound for a second inning of work after Tyler Clippard struck out a pair in the tenth. Yasiel Puig opened the frame with a bloop single to right-center before moving to second on a grounder to second by Jason Kipnis. A wild pitch by Thorpe moved Puig to third, but the left-hander got Franmil Reyes swinging for the second out. Manager Terry Francona lifted Jake Bauers for Jordan Luplow, but Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli countered by bringing on 21-year-old right-hander Brusdar Graterol. Francona went back to his bench and sent Greg Allen up to the plate, but after Graterol fell behind Allen, Baldelli issued the intentional walk to put runners on the corners. Roberto Perez stepped up with the chance to play the hero and delivered, shooting an RBI-single through the right side of the infield to put the Indians up for the first time since the third inning, 3-2. Mike Freeman pinch-hit for Yu Chang and was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Francisco Lindor, who had started the Indians scoring back in the second, grounded to Miguel Sano at third, but he did not field the ball cleanly which allowed all runners to move up, including the second run of the inning to cross to make it 4-2. Baldelli came back to the center of the diamond to summon Trevor Hildenberger, but his second pitch to Oscar Mercado split the shifted shortstop and second baseman and skipped into center to score both Perez and Freeman to make it a 6-2 Tribe lead. Santana walked to reload the bases, but the tenth man to bat, Puig, grounded to third to close out the ugly inning for the Twins.
Nick Goody came on in the non-save situation and struck out two of the three men that he faced to close out the game.
The Indians moved to 82-60 on the year and 8-6 this season against the Twins, who are now 87-53. Minnesota’s lead decreased to five and a half over Cleveland. The Indians kept pace in the AL Wild Card race with Tampa, which was victorious over Toronto.
Clippard earned his first win of the season with an inning and one-third of perfect relief with three strikeouts. Thorpe took his second loss of the season to drop to 2-2.
Both starting pitchers provided quality starts in a key series for the Indians at Target Field as the team trailed the Twins by six and a half games in the American League Central with six head-to-head matchups remaining on the 2019 regular season slate. Minnesota’s Michael Pineda provided six innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out ten. Cleveland’s Adam Plutko matched him, giving up two runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in his six innings of work.
It was Lindor that gave Plutko a lead to work with in the third inning. Both starters allowed a hit in the first and a walk in the second, but Lindor obliterated a 1-1 four-seamer over the dish and sent it 433 feet to right and onto the plaza for his 28th home run of the season and a 1-0 Cleveland lead.
Plutko retired the side in order for the first time in the bottom of the third and Pineda countered by doing the same in the top of the fourth before his teammates got to work against the Tribe right-hander. Nelson Cruz lined a bullet off of the right hip of Plutko to reach on an infield single. He was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Eddie Rosario for the first out. Sano struck out swinging for the second out before Luis Arraez singled to right-center to put runners on the corners. C.J. Cron knotted the score at one with a clutch two-out double to right to score Rosario and move Arraez to third. Jason Castro was unable to tack on more runs, as he grounded to Kipnis at second to end the inning.
Pineda pitched into and out of a mess in the fifth. With one out, Chang singled to right. Lindor flied out for the second out, but Chang moved to second on a wild pitch before Mercado walked. Another wild pitch, this one bouncing all the way from the backstop back to Pineda on the mound, allowed Chang to go to third, but Santana was unable to give the Indians a lead as he flied out to left.
The Twins took the lead against Plutko in the bottom of the fifth. Jake Cave singled to right, but exited the game with groin tightness and was replaced by LaMonte Wade Jr. Max Kepler moved the base runner to third with a single to left and a third straight single from Jorge Polanco pushed across Wade Jr. to put Minnesota up, 2-1. With the wheels looking like they were flying off of the Plutko bus, he got a key double play grounder off of the bat of Cruz before stranding Kepler at third on a grounder to second by Rosario to leave the deficit at one.
Pineda struck out the side in his final inning of work in the top of the sixth and Plutko nearly replicated his feat, striking out the first and third outs of a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning to cap off his strong start against the tough Twins.
Trevor May and Oliver Perez each allowed two-out base runners in the seventh, but did not allow those runners to advance further. May left for Sergio Romo for the eighth, but the Twins’ deadline pickup could not protect the one-run lead. Mercado caught a slider and slapped it into the right field corner for a leadoff triple. Santana popped to second for the first out, but Puig knocked in the runner with a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game at two.
Carlos Carrasco came on for the bottom of the eighth and had his first good outing in his third game off of the injured list. He struck out Cruz before Rosario singled to right. Sano struck out swinging and Arraez grounded to short.
Zack Littell picked off Bauers in the ninth after walking him with one out, derailing the Indians’ late rally efforts before they could even start. Adam Cimber started the ninth, getting the first two batters before walking the potential winning run in Wade Jr. Clippard came on and struck out the dangerous Kepler to send the game to extras. After the Indians were unable to do anything with a two-out single by Mercado, Clippard fired a perfect tenth frame, striking out a pair.
Eight of the Tribe’s ten hits on the day came from the top four spots in the batting order. Mercado had three hits out of the two-hole, scoring once and driving in a pair. Lindor went 2-for-6, driving in two runs and scoring once. Santana had two hits and drew a walk, despite not factoring in the scoring. Puig was 1-for-5 with a sacrifice fly.
It was a tough day at the dish for Cleveland’s Reyes and Minnesota’s Sano, as the pair both went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
Game two of the three-game series from Target Field will pick up at 7:10 PM ET on Saturday night. All-Star Jake Odorizzi (14-6, 3.61 ERA) will be tasked with taking on the Tribe, while rookie right-hander Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.94) will throw for Cleveland. Odorizzi is 2-0 against the Indians this season in three starts, allowing just two runs on ten hits in 17 innings pitched. Civale quieted the Twins on August 11 in a no-decision, giving up just one run on four hits over six innings of work.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images