Jose Ramirez tied the game with a solo homer in the eighth and Jordan Luplow walked it off in the bottom of the tenth as his two-run home run to start the inning gave the Cleveland Indians a big 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
The struggling Cleveland offense stepped up in the nick of time in the series opener between the Indians and Twins on Monday, getting Zach Plesac off of the hook after seven and two-thirds quality innings on the mound in an encouraging bounce-back effort from the young right-hander. He saved the Tribe’s bullpen and kept the game close long enough for his offensive teammates to do some late damage against the Twins bullpen, riding a pair of big flies late to steal away a needed win.
Minnesota broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the eighth against Plesac. Jake Cave singled to short to start the Twins’ rally. Andrelton Simmons moved Cave to second on a grounder to short, but Plesac got another grounder from Ryan Jeffers to leave the runner at second. Luis Arraez sent the next pitch into left field for the go-ahead hit, putting the Twins up, 3-2. Arraez moved up on a wild pitch and Josh Donaldson walked to put runners on the corners, but reliever Bryan Shaw came on and got Nelson Cruz to ground out to first.
Tyler Duffey came on in relief for Rocco Baldelli in the bottom of the eighth after Hansel Robles stranded Roberto Perez at third after his leadoff walk, steal of second, and advancement to third on a fly out. Luplow grounded a 2-1 pitch up the middle to second, but was retired for the first out. Duffey fell behind Ramirez 3-0 before a called strike and a swing and a miss. Duffey’s payoff pitch was yanked down the right field line by Ramirez and over the wall in the corner for a 340-foot home run, tying the game back up at three.
Shaw retired the side in order in the top of the ninth before the Indians threatened for a walkoff in regulation. Josh Naylor singled to center off of Taylor Rogers. Perez struck out swinging before Andres Gimenez doubled to left, putting the winning run at third in Naylor. A. Rosario chopped a 3-2 pitch to third, where Donaldson fired to the plate to cut down Naylor. Down to their final out with runners on the corners, Hernandez could not get the job done as he grounded into a fielder’s choice force to leave the winning run at third.
Emmanuel Clase entered in the non-save situation with Willians Astudillo starting the inning at second. Cave moved the runner to third on a groundout to short, but Clase punched out Simmons on a filthy 99 MPH cutter on the black for the second out and got Jeffers to ground to short to keep the game tied.
Alex Colome replaced Duffey on the mound for the bottom of the tenth with Hernandez at second. Luplow fouled off a first pitch four-seamer down the middle before taking a cutter outside. Colome came back with another cutter but left it over the heart of the plate and Luplow launched it high and deep to left, clearing the wall for the walk-off two-run home run to give the Indians a 5-3 win.
“Honestly, I was just trying to put the ball in play and give the team a chance to win,” said Luplow. “The scene with all my teammates at home plate was something that I’ll never forget.”
Clase earned his second win of the season with a scoreless inning of work and one strikeout while Cleveland improved to 10-11 on the year. Colome took his third loss of 2021 in his three-pitch outing and the scuffling Minnesota club dropped to 7-14.
Plesac gave up a pair of early runs in his matchup against tough right-hander Jose Berrios. After a 1-2-3 first, he got the first two men in the second on outs in the air before Brent Rooker drove the first pitch that he saw from Plesac over the wall in right-center for a solo shot, putting Minnesota on the board, 1-0.
Berrios retired the side in order in the first before working out of a jam in the second. Eddie Rosario singled to center to start the inning. After Franmil Reyes lined to short for the first out, Naylor singled to right to move E. Rosario to third with the bottom of the lineup due. Perez struck out swinging and Gimenez lined to center to strand a pair.
Plesac set down the Twins in the top of the third and Berrios did the same in the bottom half before Minnesota added another run. Cruz reached on a single with one down and moved up to third on a double by Alex Kirilloff. Jorge Polanco made it a 2-0 game with a sacrifice fly to left before Plesac got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice force at third.
Berrios struck out a pair in a perfect fourth, while Plesac matched his performance in the top of the fifth. Cleveland threatened again in the bottom of the inning, but could not strike through against Berrios. He gave up a leadoff double to Naylor. Perez could not advance the runner, grounding out to third, but Gimenez did so with a chopper to second. With a run 90 feet from home, A. Rosario left him there with a liner to second.
Plesac kept the Twins off of the board again in the sixth before the Indians offense finally delivered on a scoring opportunity against Berrios. Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a groundout by Luplow. Ramirez lined to first for the second out, but E. Rosario did some damage to his former Twins teammates, doubling to left on a 3-1 offering to score Hernandez to make it a 2-1 game. Reyes fell behind 0-2 before driving a single the opposite way to push home E. Rosario with the tying run. Berrios was forced to exit the game on a blunder by Baldelli, who did not realize that his pitching coach had already gone to the mound in the inning, forcing the team to turn to Robles, who left Reyes at second before avoiding harm the following inning.
Plesac retired eleven in a row before Cave’s eighth inning single started the Twins’ final rally. He finished with seven and two-thirds innings on the night, giving up three runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. He exited with 93 pitches tossed, working ahead in the count much of the night in an encouraging no-decision.
Berrios lasted two outs into the sixth before turning the game over to the bullpen. He was charged with two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out three in an 83-pitch effort. He and the Twins pitching staff kept the Tribe bats at bay much of the night, as Cleveland was just 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, but all three of those hits led to four of the team’s five runs on the night.
Naylor led the Tribe with three singles, but did not factor in the scoring. Rosario had a pair of hits against his former team, scoring once and driving one run in. Luplow’s homer, his second career game-winner, was his team-high sixth of the season, breaking a two-inning tie with Ramirez, who hit his fifth in the eighth.
Reliever Nick Wittgren was away from the Indians on Monday for the birth of his child and was placed on the paternity list. Reliever Kyle Nelson was recalled from the team’s alternate training site. The Twins played without Byron Buxton, who was dealing with a sore knee.
Game two of the three-game set from Progressive Field will take place at 6:10 PM ET on Tuesday night. Aaron Civale (3-0, 2.42 ERA) will draw the starting nod in search of his first career win against Minnesota. Tough right-hander Kenta Maeda (1-1, 6.11 ERA) will counter for the Twins.
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