Santana and Lindor Blasts Back Clevinger in Victory; Indians 5, Twins 2
Bob Toth | On 08, Sep 2019
The weekend didn’t go quite as planned for the Cleveland Indians, but they did pick up a game on the Minnesota Twins in their three-game series as they claimed a 5-2 win on Sunday to take their set from Target Field.
Entering the weekend series on the road in the Twin Cities, the Indians trailed by six and a half games in the American League Central. The two clubs traded off wins in the first two games of the series before Cleveland captured the rubber match in a well-pitched game by Mike Clevinger, who was backed by a pair of homers from Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor as the Indians picked up one on the Twins to pull within five and a half games in the division with 18 games left on the regular season slate.
The Twins opted for a bullpen game in their tough matchup against Clevinger, who was looking to win for the tenth straight decision. Randy Dobnak, a mustachioed and bespectacled right-hander, drew the starting nod for Minnesota, but after a perfect first inning, he ran into quick trouble in the second as each of the first four batters reached base safely. Yasiel Puig showed a good eye at the plate leading off the inning, working the count from 0-2 to 3-2 before drawing an eight-pitch walk to kick things off. After two pitches off the plate to Jason Kipnis, the Tribe second baseman doubled down the right field line to put a pair in scoring position for Franmil Reyes. He fell behind 1-2 before driving a single to center to score both base runners to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Greg Allen moved Reyes to third with a single before being thrown out trying to advance to second for the first out. Dobnak got the next two easier, getting Kevin Plawecki to ground to third before Yu Chang struck out swinging to end the rally.
Clevinger pitched a 1-2-3 first and got three flyouts in a ten-pitch second before the Indians added on with two outs in the third against reliever Devin Smeltzer. After he got Lindor to ground to third and Oscar Mercado to swing and miss on a changeup, Santana drove the next pitch over the wall in left-center for a solo home run, extending the Indians lead to 3-0 on his 33rd bomb of the year. Puig and Kipnis each reached after the homer on infield singles to third before Reyes ended the inning with a grounder to short.
Clevinger made it seven straight retired to start his outing with a strikeout looking of Ehire Adrianza to open the third before allowing his first base runner to reach. LaMonte Wade Jr. worked a walk, but he was left at first as Jonathan Schoop lined to center and Ian Miller grounded back to the mound.
Smeltzer retired the side in order in the fourth before the Twins got on the board in the home half. Mitch Garver, who hit a pair of homers in Minnesota’s 5-3 win on Saturday night, launched his 29th of the year 410 feet to center to make it a 3-1 game on the first hit of the day for the home club. Clevinger got the next two before a ground rule double to right by Willians Astudillo, but Luis Arraez missed his chance to make the game closer as he grounded out to first.
Cleveland responded with a long ball of its own in the top of the fifth against Smeltzer to get the run right back. After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Lindor drove a four-seamer out of the park for his 29th shot of the year, making it a 4-1 game. A double play ball after a one-out walk by Santana prevented further damage against Smeltzer.
Sunshine got all three outs (around a one-out Wade Jr. walk) via swinging strikeout in the bottom of the fifth, retiring Adrianza, Schoop, and Miller. He took care of Garver the same way to open a 1-2-3 sixth.
The Indians added a fifth and final run to the scoreboard in the seventh ahead of the stretch against Cody Stashak. Chang worked the count from 0-2 to full before fouling off a pitch and taking a ball high to draw a leadoff walk. Lindor doubled him to third on the next pitch and a sacrifice fly from Mercado gave Cleveland a 5-1 lead. Ryne Harper took over to retire the next two for manager Rocco Baldelli.
Clevinger returned to the center of the diamond to start the seventh, but he exited after giving up a one-out single to Arraez and a double to Adrianza that put two in scoring position. Nick Wittgren got out of the mess for Tribe skipper Terry Francona, but not before allowing another run to cross when Wade Jr. reached on an RBI-single that plated Arraez. With runners on the corners, Wittgren walked Schoop to load the bases, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate with one out. The right-hander buckled down and took over, pitching out of the mess with back-to-back swinging strikeouts of pinch-hitter C.J. Cron and Garver to leave three key runs stranded.
The Indians put two on in the eighth and ninth innings against the Twins bullpen, but were unable to push any more runs across. After an uneventful eighth from Oliver Perez, Brad Hand came on in the save situation and once again made it a nail biter. After retiring Arraez and Adrianza on fly ball outs to left, he plunked Wade Jr. and walked Schoop on four straight to bring the tying run to the plate in Ryan LaMarre, who had come on as a defensive replacement in the eighth after being acquired earlier in the day from the Atlanta Braves. In his first Major League at bat of the season, he fell behind quickly, 1-2, before Hand missed a pair low and off the plate. LaMarre fouled off the first payoff pitch before taking a called third strike to give the Indians a series win over the Twins.
Cleveland is now 83-61 on the season, five and a half games in back of Minnesota. They are 9-7 against the Central leaders this season. The Twins fell to 88-55 with the loss.
The two clubs will play one final series against one another from Progressive Field September 13-15.
“That’s not going to be a big series if we don’t win in between there,” said Clevinger of next weekend’s matchup against Minnesota. “If we’re still in a good spot, that should be a pivotal series that next go-round.”
Clevinger pitched three batters into the seventh inning. He was charged with two runs on four hits while walking two batters and striking out seven. He has won ten straight decisions dating back to his June 28 loss to Baltimore in his return from his second stint on the injured list. Wittgren and Perez each earned holds prior to Hand securing his 34th save of the season, despite throwing just ten of his 22 pitches on the afternoon for strikes.
Dobnak took the loss after allowing a pair of runs in his second inning of work. Smeltzer and Stashak each added runs to the deficit for the Twins in relief.
Kipnis had a three-hit day for the Tribe in the middle of the lineup and scored a run. Reyes was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI on his second inning single. Santana reached three times with a homer and a pair of walks. Lindor had a pair of extra base hits.
Max Kepler left the ball game after his first inning at bat with upper chest discomfort, while injured outfielder Byron Buxton left the club and flew to California to get his left shoulder examined by a specialist. Nelson Cruz was held out of the lineup for a second straight day to rest his injured left wrist. The Twins had just five hits on the day against Tribe pitching.
The Indians head to the West Coast for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, while the Twins will stay home to host the Washington Nationals for three beginning Tuesday night.
Shane Bieber will open the Tribe’s series with the Angels.
Photo: Bryan Singer/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)