CLEVELAND – The Twins have been a tough out for the Indians this season.
Now, these are two teams heading in different directions. And an Indians team trying to surge to the postseason looks too much for a Twins team down five players since the trade deadline.
After the Twins handed them a pair of runs in the first inning, Cleveland blasted two homers off Kyle Gibson and two more off Matt Belisle while cruising to a 10-0 victory at Progressive Field. Indians righthander Trevor Bauer struck out 11 over six innings as the Twins’ winning streak ended at three. It was so lopsided that catcher Mitch Garver pitched the eighth inning, the third time this season the Twins have used a position player on the mound.
“Anybody else need Tums or anything before we start?” manager Paul Molitor said.
That was before the first question of his postgame news conference. The Twins still lead the season series 7-6, but that might change with more innings like the first one Monday.
With runners on first and second, Gibson attempted to pick off Francisco Lindor from second, but shortstop Jorge Polanco missed the throw for an error, enabling both runners to move up a base.
Jose Ramirez followed with a shallow fly ball down the right field line. Because of poor communication, right fielder Max Kepler and second baseman Logan Forsythe bumped and tumbled to the ground as Forsythe caught the ball in foul territory. Lindor scored and Michael Brantley moved to third. Brantley then scored on a grounder, and Cleveland led 2-0.
“The first inning was disastrous,” Molitor said. “Just the way it unfolded.”
Gibson (5-9) managed the game well before his night went haywire in the fourth. Yonder Alonzo led off with a home run into the bullpens. Roberto Perez hit an RBI double. Brandon Guyer, with six hits all season off righthanders, launched a Gibson pitch down the left field line for a two-run blast that made it 6-0. Gibson needed 38 pitches to get through the inning.
“It’s frustrating for me when I give up homers because I have the ability to keep he ball in the park and I have the ability to make teams put three and four hits together to have a big inning,” said Gibson, who has given up only 15 home runs this season. “When you put guys on and don’t execute pitches and allow them to have a big inning, that’s the frustrating part.”
It was plenty if support for Bauer. He struck out Polanco in the first inning for his 197th strikeout of the season, a career high. He froze Bobby Wilson for strike three in the third, his 200th K on the season.
With two on and two out in the sixth, Bauer (11-6) fired a 95-mile-per-hour fastball on the inside corner to strike out Kepler looking. It was Bauer’s 11th strikeout, and Kepler became the ninth Twin to strike out against him Monday.
Now the Twins are 10 games back of the Indians. Instead of daring to dream about a sweep to make things more interesting, this could be the week the Twins are given last rites. Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber are waiting over the next three games, and the Twins offense is down one second baseman, Brian Dozier, who is now with the Dodgers, as well as a doubles-hitting third baseman, Eduardo Escobar, who is now with the Diamondbacks.
And it was there for all to see Monday how the Twins match up without them.
“We’ve had a lot better days,” Molitor said. “It was not pleasant to endure that beatdown.”