CLEVELAND — Barring a trade, the Twins won’t have to face Danny Salazar again until at least August. Maybe they’ll have figured him out by then.
The Twins’ hitting bandwagon came to a screeching halt Sunday the moment Salazar climbed on the Progressive Field mound — or actually, about 90 seconds after that. Brian Dozier launched a leadoff home run off Salazar, but the Twins didn’t manage another run — correction: not another hit — off Salazar the rest of the day. Their four-game winning streak ended with an 8-2 loss to the Indians.
Salazar, who struck out 10 Twins on April 18 en route to his first win of the season, upped the ante with 11 whiffs in just seven innings Sunday, improving to 4-1 by retiring 21 straight batters after Dozier’s homer. Only four balls left the infield after Dozier clanged one off the left-field foul pole — yes, the Twins came within approximately one foot from being not only shut out, but perhaps no-hit — and all six Twins struck out in the fifth and sixth innings.
In fact, one day after eight of the nine Twins in the lineup collected a hit, eight of the nine Twins struck out against Salazar. And even when he left, fortunes didn’t change much — reliever Zach McAllister struck out the side in the eighth inning, too, and Minnesota struck out a season-high 15 times. That tops their previous high of 14, set the last time they faced Salazar.
Dozier’s home run moved him up to fourth in Twins’ history for most leadoff homers, though with eight so far, he still trails all-time leader Jacque Jones by a dozen. That was all the offense the Twins managed until the ninth inning, when Torii Hunter drew a two-out walk off Cleveland closer Cody Allen, moved up to second base, then scored on Joe Mauer’s single.
Trevor May took the loss for the Twins, allowing six runs on nine hits over four innings, but his day might have been different without a critical mistake by his defense. With two outs in the fourth inning, Eddie Rosario dropped a Jason Kipnis fly ball on the warning track while on the run, turning it into an RBI triple. That started lots of trouble, because instead of a scoreless inning, the next four batters also collected hits. Lonnie Chisenhall's three-run homer to center field capped the five-run inning.
The Twins, still 8-2 in May, take Monday off, then resume this six-game road trip Tuesday in Detroit, where they were outscored 22-1 in the season-opening series last month.