It was pretty thorough.
Edwin Encarnacion provided the hitting, Trevor Bauer provided the pitching, and the Indians did everything else right in a 5-2 victory over the Twins on Sunday, completing a four-game sweep that put Cleveland back in first place in AL Central.
Cleveland spent the weekend offering reasons why they are superior to the Twins, as they improved to 7-0 at Target Field this season. The Indians did little wrong, and the Twins are checking the calendar to make sure it’s still 2017, not 2016.
“I think we just played a pretty good team that played well in their last game against L.A. [a 12-5 win over the Angels on Wednesday] and kind of got going and came in here ready to play,” Twins righthander Kyle Gibson said. “I don’t think the feeling changes, being down one or two games.”
After being in first place for 39 consecutive days, the Twins will rise Monday in second place in the division for the second day in a row. They entered Friday with a two-game lead over Cleveland. Now they trail by two.
While Gibson was not too shabby Sunday, giving up three runs over six innings, concerns about the Twins pitching staff aren’t going away.
On the other hand, the Twins offense was unable to pick up their pitchers. The Twins made nearly as many roster moves (six) as runs scored (eight) during the series. They mustered only four hits Sunday.
Cleveland shined defensively all weekend, including Sunday, when outfielder Bradley Zimmer threw out Max Kepler at home plate in the second inning with 101.5-mph throw, according to Statcast.
The Twins, on the other hand, didn’t play clean games, Sunday included. Kepler, replays revealed, missed the plate with his left foot as he was thrown out. And Eddie Rosario, after hitting a seventh-inning RBI single to make it 4-2, was caught too far off first base and was tagged out to end the inning and halt the Twins’ momentum.
“Collectively, it’s a frustrating series,” manager Paul Molitor said. “You let four games go to, at least for now, your chief competitor. Somehow we have to get past it and learn from it. No question, they played better.”
Encarnacion drove in all five of Cleveland’s runs. Gibson threw him a 94-mph fastball down the middle of the plate in the fourth inning, and Encarnacion bashed it an estimated 443 feet to left for the first run of the game. Encarnacion lofted a two-run shot in the sixth, off a hanging breaking ball, to make it 3-0.
Tyler Duffey then gave up an RBI single to Encarnacion in the seventh. After the Twins scored twice in the bottom of the inning, Encarnacion, who was 5-for-14 with three homers in the series, hit a sacrifice fly off Brandon Kintzler in the ninth.
Bauer (6-5) took a two-hitter into the seventh and was removed in the eighth after giving up a leadoff walk. He is 3-0 with 3.26 ERA against the Twins this season and 3-5 with a 6.34 ERA against everyone else.
The last time the Twins were swept at home, May 29-31 vs. Houston, they won six of their next nine games. Molitor is hoping for a similar response, after Monday’s day off, when the White Sox arrive for a three-game series Tuesday.
“We did rebound last time, and it is up to these guys in what we can do here in terms of regrouping,” he said. “I think everyone is ready for a blow tomorrow. We’ll see what happens when Chicago rolls in.”