CLEVELAND – Now we know just how angry the Twins were about being swept by Cleveland at Target Field last week.
Despite not having their best possible lineup for two of the three games at Progressive Field this weekend, the Twins outplayed the Indians throughout the series, including on Sunday during a 4-0 victory that moved them past Cleveland and back into first place in the AL Central by a half-game.
The Terror at Target, where the Twins were outscored 28-8 in four games, set the stage for the Payback at Progressive, where they swept Cleveland in a three-game series in Ohio for the first time since June 14-16, 1991.
And the sense of accomplishment was evident in the clubhouse after the game.
“We didn’t hold a meeting or anything, but we have been talking about getting embarrassed at home,” second baseman Brian Dozier said. “Now I can say it. We wanted to stick it to them. Especially today, after yesterday, not just being content with winning this series.
“We kind of wanted to stomp on their throats while they are down.”
Behind six shutout innings by righthander Ervin Santana; three hits, three runs and a home run by Eddie Rosario; then two doubles and three RBI from Jason Castro, the Twins have momentum as they head to Boston to start a four-game series on Monday.
“To win three games, you have to feel good about it,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “There are times when you pause and enjoy the things that come your way throughout a season, and the guys should enjoy this.”
The Twins have shut out opponents seven times this season. They have swept a three-game series three times.
And this series sweep is an eye-opener for a few reasons.
Miguel Sano did not play in the first two games of the series because of illness.
Molitor filled out three different lineup cards on Saturday because Max Kepler (bruised right foot), then Rosario (illness) were scratched. The Twins had to use Kennys Vargas (.262 on-base percentage) as the No. 3 hitter on Friday and start catcher Chris Gimenez in left field on Saturday.
Twins starters failed to pitch into the sixth inning in the first two games of the series. And Twins pitchers as a whole issued 10 walks over the first two games.
But the Twins won 5-0 on Friday, then 4-2 on Saturday despite being matched up against Indians ace Corey Kluber.
“If you can find a way to fight and win those kind of games, they can be big pick-me-ups,” Molitor said. “ Those are team-building wins for sure.”
On Sunday, the Twins got a two-run double by Castro in the second inning, a solo home run by Rosario in the fourth, then an RBI double by Castro in the sixth. In 5 ⅔ innings, Indians righthander Josh Tomlin (4-9) gave up four earned runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out five.
That was enough for Santana to improve to 10-4. In six shutout innings, Santana gave up nine hits but no walks while striking out seven and lowering his ERA to 2.80. In the second through fifth innings, Santana delivered an inning-ending strikeout when the Indians had at least one runner in scoring position.
Buddy Boshers pitched two shutout innings. And Brandon Kintzler pitched the ninth to complete the payback.
Cleveland was 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position and left 30 runners on base during the series.
“It was disappointing,” Tomlin said. “We had a chance to take a step forward and spread [the lead] out a little bit, and we didn’t take advantage of that at all. They came in here and wanted it a little bit more than we did, and they took three games.”