Twins Homers, Absent Tribe Offense Send Bieber to First Loss; Twins 3, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 11, Sep 2020
New lineup, same results for the Tribe on a soggy night from Minneapolis on Friday night as the Twins shut down the Cleveland Indians in a 3-1 final.
With Francisco Lindor hitting out of the leadoff spot and Cesar Hernandez hitting in the two-hole in interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr.’s lineup, the new look presented the same old results as the Indians failed to do much of anything against Kenta Maeda, Sergio Romo, and Taylor Rogers. Just like Thursday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals, the Indians managed just one last minute scratch of the scoreboard, with the offense providing much too little, too late to catch their Minnesotan opponents.
Shane Bieber took his first loss of the season despite a quality start on the mound. Facing the Twins for the third time this season, he worked around a two-out walk of Eddie Rosario in the first before running into trouble in the second. After a flyout by Miguel Sano to open the inning, Jake Cave doubled to left. Byron Buxton put the Twins on the board with the only runs that they would need on the night as he cleared the left field fence with his seventh homer of the season on the first pitch that he saw from Bieber, putting Minnesota up by a 2-0 count.
Maeda kept the Indians in check once again. He gave up a two-out single in the first to Jose Ramirez, then retired the side in order in the second before the Twins gave him the lead. He made it seven straight retired with a perfect third. Hernandez singled to start the fourth inning to end that stretch of retired players, but Maeda got the next three in order to leave Hernandez stranded at first.
Bieber settled in after the quick fireworks in the second. He gave up a leadoff walk to Jorge Polanco in the third, then got three straight outs to get out of the predicament. He struck out two in the fourth and did that again in the fifth to make it eight straight retired for the Tribe ace.
The Indians had base runners against Maeda in the fifth and sixth, but could get nothing going. Josh Naylor walked with one out in the fourth, but after a Roberto Perez strikeout, he was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice by Delino DeShields. Lindor reached with a leadoff single in the sixth, but he was picked off of first.
The Twins threatened for more runs in the sixth against Bieber. Josh Donaldson reached on an infield single and Rosario moved him into scoring position with a single to right. Bieber buckled down from there, getting Nelson Cruz and Sano to foul out before Cave struck out swinging to strand a pair.
Maeda returned for a seventh inning of work and allowed two base runners, but no real threat from the Cleveland lineup. Carlos Santana drew a leadoff walk before being doubled up on the front end of a double play ball off of the bat of Franmil Reyes. Tyler Naquin singled to right with two outs before Naylor grounded out to second.
The Twins added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh in Bieber’s final frame of work. After getting the first two batters, Bieber left a 1-1 slider where Ryan Jeffers could get it and he blasted the pitch off of the facing of the second deck for a solo homer. His second of the year made it a 3-0 game.
Things got a little testy in the top of the eighth inning. With Romo on the mound, he needed 13 pitches to set down Perez and DeShields. As Lindor lofted a 1-1 pitch to left, he and Romo could be seen barking at each other as Lindor made his way to first. The two had notably jarred at each other earlier this year during the Twins’ previous visit to Progressive Field. The Twins players held back their aging reliever, who may not have fared well against the younger Tribe shortstop in a one-on-one bout, while the benches and bullpens cleared. Romo continued to jaw from the comfort of Sano’s arms, and he could be seen heated in the Twins dugout later with veteran leader Cruz and others while Lindor chatted in between pitches with the second base umpire the following half inning.
“This is a situation that has been brewing for a while. Romo likes to dish it. Our guys were dishing it back,” said Alomar Jr. “That’s the way he is. If he’s going to dish it, when we dish it back you have to take it and that’s the bottom line.”
James Karinchak struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth for the Indians before the Tribe made an inspired last ditch effort to strike through against their division rival. After Rogers retired Hernandez on a fly deep to right, Ramirez cleared the left field wall with his tenth homer of the year to end the shutout, making it a 3-1 game. Santana grounded to Donaldson for the second out, but Reyes laced a double down the right field line to bring the tying run to the plate. Oscar Mercado grabbed a bat for Naquin, but he grounded back to the mound to end the contest.
The Twins moved to 28-18 on the season, while the Indians fell to 26-19, one and a half games off of the pace of second place Minnesota. Cleveland has now dropped four in a row.
Bieber suffered his first loss of the season to move to 7-1 in 2020. He was charged with three runs on five hits in seven innings of work, walking two and striking out eight. He passed the 100-strikeout mark late in his outing, but he came away with his first defeat despite the quality showing as the Indians bats did next to nothing against Maeda. Bieber’s ERA climbed to 1.53 with the three runs allowed.
“He wasn’t the Shane Bieber of old, but he still managed to keep us in the game,” said Alomar Jr. “At times, he got a little predictable with two strikes. He still competes out there. He ended up striking out eight guys, walked two guys, and kept us in the game. At the end of the day, he still did what he’s supposed to do. If we would have scored some runs it would have looked great.”
Bieber became the fastest pitcher to record 100 strikeouts in a season since 1900, doing so in 62 1/3 innings.
As for the 32-year-old Twins right-hander, he limited the Indians to just four hits in seven shutout innings to move to 5-1 on the year. He walked two and struck out seven on the night. Romo pitched a perfect inning of relief, while Rogers’ shaky season continued despite his ninth save as he allowed a run on two hits with a strikeout in an inning to see his season ERA move to 4.11.
“I don’t even know what to tell you any more about Maeda,” said Alomar Jr. “He does his job. He doesn’t give in to the hitter…He managed to handle our guys.”
The Indians stranded five runners and had just one opportunity with runners in scoring position on the final batter of the night. Lindor, Hernandez, and Naquin each singled. Santana and Naylor drew walks. Ramirez had two hits, including his tenth homer, while Reyes got the club’s only other extra base hit on the night.
The Twins were outhit by the Indians, 6-5. Three of their hits were for extra bases and all those accounted for the team’s scoring, as Cave’s double was followed by the Buxton blast and Jeffers added his solo shot late. Donaldson and Rosario each had singles, while Rosario and Polanco drew the Twins’ pair of walks on the day.
The game was delayed 42 minutes at its start due to rain, which was an issue at times throughout the night.
Game two of three from Target Field is scheduled for a national broadcast at 8:07 PM ET on Saturday night. The Indians will call on Zach Plesac (3-1, 1.32 ERA), who will look to continue a three-game winning streak on the mound. The Twins will turn to left-hander Rich Hill (1-1, 3.86 ERA), whose best game since returning from the injured list in August came against the Indians.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images