The Minnesota Twins couldn’t find enough offense and the Cleveland Indians made a late rally to take the opener of a critical three-game series.
The Minnesota Twins came into this weekend’s series against the Cleveland Indians in the driver’s seat of the American League Central. With a 6 1/2 game lead with 23 games to play, this weekend’s series represents a golden opportunity to bury their main competition for their first division title in 2010 and prepare for a potential postseason berth.
While the Twins played solid baseball for a majority of Friday’s opener of the three-game set, a couple critical plays went toward the visitors and after a four-run eleventh inning, the Indians were able to take the first game of the series by a score of 6-2.
The game started well for Minnesota as they sent their defacto ace to the mound in Michael Pineda. After compiling a 2.88 ERA in his last 10 starts, the Twins had to feel good with Pineda on the mound and he reinforced that confidence with a solid outing, striking out 10 Indians in six innings for a quality start.
Despite Pineda’s solid overall night, he would let the Tribe get to him first as Francisco Lindor launched his 28th home run out to Target Plaza to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead in the third inning.
The Twins would have a response in the bottom of the fourth inning when C.J. Cron laced a double into right field to drive in Eddie Rosario to tie the game up. Minnesota would take the lead the following inning as Jorge Polanco delivered an RBI single to put the Twins ahead 2-1.
That score would hold up into the top of the eighth inning as the Twins couldn’t get anything more off of Cleveland starter Adam Plutko. In that inning, Oscar Mercado would shoot a flair to right field off Sergio Romo. Despite a diving effort from LaMonte Wade Jr., the Indians center fielder would lead off the inning with a triple and Yasiel Puig would deliver a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
After a couple of missed opportunities for the Twins, they would go to the top of the 11th. After Lewis Thorpe allowed a leadoff single to Yasiel Puig, he would get Jason Kipnis on a grounder and Franmil Reyes on a strikeout before Rocco Baldelli would turn to Brusdar Graterol for his Target Field debut.
In what could be an audition for a potential postseason role, Graterol allowed a bleeder off the bat of Roberto Perez to give the Indians the lead. That would trigger a four-run inning for Cleveland to blow the game open at 6-2 and Nick Goody would set the Twins down in order in the bottom half of the 11th to give the Indians the series-opening victory.
The Twins saw their lead shrink to 5 1/2 games, but they’ll look to turn things around as they host the Indians for the second game on Saturday night. Minnesota will send Jake Odorizzi (14-6, 3.61 ERA) to the mound against Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.94 ERA) for a 6:10 p.m. CT first pitch.