The Cleveland Indians were knocking on the door all afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, and in the top of the seventh inning, they kicked it open and took full advantage.
The Indians (8-7) plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning and fought their way to a 6-2 win over the Twins (7-8) to complete the sweep at Target Field in what became a three-game series after Wednesday’s contest was postponed because of inclement weather.
Third baseman Yandy Diaz and catcher Roberto Perez got things going when they reached on infield singles, the first of which went to the pitcher and the second that was a slow roller down the third-base line. Then, against Twins left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers, first baseman Carlos Santana switched to the right side of the plate and smashed an RBI double down the left-field line.
Santana drove in Diaz for the tying run. Then, after the Twins issued an intentional walk to shortstop Francisco Lindor, left fielder Michael Brantley drew a bases-loaded walk, which pushed the go-ahead run across the plate.
Then, after Twins reliever Matt Belisle got designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion to pop out to second base, second baseman Jose Ramirez drew a bases-loaded walk for the Indians’ second RBI free pass of the inning.
After having just one base-runner, center fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, on base via a walk over their first three trips to the plate, the Indians’ bats started warming up against Twins starter Ervin Santana in the top of the fourth inning.
With one out, Brantley smacked an 0-1 pitch to right-center field, and Encarnacion quickly followed with a single to right. Encarnacion took an inside-out swing at a pitch up in the strike zone and muscled it into the outfield.
However, the rally short-circuited when Ramirez fouled out to third base and Chisenhall flied out to left field.
After escaping unscathed in the top of the fourth inning, the Twins took the lead in the bottom of the frame.
First baseman Joe Mauer led off with a double to deep left-center field, and after third baseman Miguel Sano struck out swinging, right fielder Max Kepler singled to center field and moved Mauer over to third base. Then, designated hitter Robbie Grossman drew a walk, which loaded the bases.
With catcher Jason Castro at the plate, Indians starter Trevor Bauer slipped off the pitching rubber and failed to throw home. The balk brought in Mauer for the game’s first run. Castro eventually drew a walk to reload the bases, and shortstop Jorge Polanco followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to left field.
Although the Twins took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, the Indians had a response in their next trip to the plate.
Down in the count, 0-1, right fielder Abraham Almonte socked a one-out double to the wall in right field, and two batters later, Santana smashed a 1-2 pitch to deep right field. The ball just missed getting out of the ballpark, as it hit close to the top of the 23-foot wall.
However, the hit was enough to bring around Almonte for the Indians’ first run of the game.
The Indians added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning when Chisenhall smoked a 3-0 pitch from Ryan Pressly to deep center field to drive in Ramirez, who walked with two outs in the inning, and then, catcher Yan Gomes smacked an RBI double to left field.
The Indians had five doubles in the victory over the Twins.
Despite struggling in the early part of the fourth inning, Bauer settled in and allowed just two earned runs and three hits with three walks against seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings of work.
Along with left-handed relievers Boone Logan and Andrew Miller, as well as right-handed set-up man Bryan Shaw, Bauer was one of four pitchers the Indians used to get through the bottom of the seventh inning without the Twins scoring a run.
The bullpen allowed just one hit and two walks against four strikeouts in two-plus innings of work in the Indians’ third straight victory.
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