CLEVELAND – The Indians took the Twins’ best shot in the seventh inning Sunday, then delivered one of their own, as Carlos Santana connected for a home run off Trevor May to lift Cleveland to a 4-3 victory.
The Twins, however, made it be known that the Indians better pack a lunch if they are going to catch them in the AL Central. The division leaders rallied for a victory Friday and Max Kepler pulverized two Trevor Bauer pitches Saturday on the way to securing a second victory in the weekend series.
These teams have 10 games left between them. And the messages were being sent all over Progressive Field during the series. By taking two of the three games, the Twins left Cleveland with a 6½-game lead and well-positioned to stiff-arm the Indians, or simply put them away.
“I think we showed them why we are in first place in the division,” said Twins righthander Jose Berrios, who wasn’t his sharpest Sunday, giving up three runs, five hits and three walks over five innings.
The Twins left town a little perturbed that they couldn’t complete a sweep. Held to three singles over six scoreless innings against All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber, the Twins finally got to the righthander in the seventh inning, putting the first two runners on before Marwin Gonzalez hit an RBI single. Miguel Sano, who looked overmatched against Bieber in his previous two at-bats, singled on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. An 0-2 pitch to Jake Cave was initially called a foul ball, but Cave claimed it nicked him. The Twins challenged the call and won, forcing in a second run.
Bieber struck out Jonathan Schoop before Oliver Perez was brought in to face Kepler, who blooped an RBI single that tied the score. However, with the bases still loaded, Perez struck out Jorge Polanco, and then Adam Cimber did the same to Nelson Cruz.
May got two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, then got ahead of Santana on fastballs at 97 and 98 miles per hour that were fouled off. Ahead 0-2, May tried to get Santana to chase a low curveball … but he left it up in the strike zone and watched it sail out to right field.
May vows revenge.
“I want him all the time,” May said. “I guarantee I’ll face him five or six times this year. Same with [Francisco] Lindor. I face him every game. I know what it’s going to be when we play these guys. We play them a bunch more times. I’m not happy with this.
“We came into this series a little annoyed. That’s what stings a little bit more than any other day, but I’m reeeeeally trying to focus on the process of getting better and trying not to dwell so much on the exact results. That’s just the way this game is. But I know that I’m on the up-and-up.”
May proceeded to use the word “annoyed” — or a version of it — nine times as he discussed the Twins’ pre-All-Star break slump and their approach to the Cleveland series.
“A little annoyed after the break with us playing Cleveland,” he said. “The lead’s been cut in half. I’m very into social media, and I hear those things a lot. A lot of people thinking they’re saying encouraging words to you, but there’s a little bit of a ‘don’t blow it’ in their tone. And that’s annoying. As a competitor, I’m annoyed. And that’s a good thing. It adds a little bit of fuel.”
Berrios needed 21 pitches to get through the first inning, when he retired the first two batters, then walked Santana and Bobby Bradley on a combined nine pitches before Jose Ramirez’s run-scoring double put Cleveland ahead. The Indians scored two more in the fourth, on RBI singles by Greg Allen and Tyler Naquin. The Twins made it interesting in the seventh before May elevated a curveball.
They headed home to open a nine-game homestand against the Mets, Athletics and Yankees not pleased with Sunday’s result but satisfied about winning the weekend and ending Cleveland’s six-game winning streak.
“The way we played these three games coming out of the break, I think we have a lot to be happy about,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think that’s the way you want to start the second half.”