Francisco Lindor led a Cleveland comeback, delivering a counter blow as he slugged a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Twins now hold a 1 1/2 game lead in the division heading into the final contest of a three-game series.
Rich Hill had a promising bounce back start, after getting knocked around for four runs in just 2 and 2/3 innings his last time out versus Milwaukee. The lone run that Hill gave up was in the first. After that, Hill was sharp, as he pitched four scoreless innings while striking out five Indians hitters, which included striking out the side in the fifth.
Jose Ramirez got the inning going for Cleveland with a one out single. The Twins had Ramirez picked off, as he attempted to steal too early, however, a poor low throw from Miguel Sano that skipped away from Luis Arraez and into the outfield allowed Ramirez to get in safely. Ramirez wouldn’t stay at second long, as he proceeded to steal third on the very next pitch. Suddenly, the Indians had a runner on third with just one out. Hill was able to get Francisco Lindor to ground out to third, without advancing the runner. However, Hill wasn’t out of the inning, as Carlos Santana came up with a two out hit to bring home the first run of the game. Franmil Reyes put in a bid to make it a big inning, but Eddie Rosario was having none of that, as he threw out Reyes trying stretch his hit to a double. That was already Rosario’s fourth outfield assist of the 2020 season.
After Shane Bieber shutdown the Twins offense the first time around, the Twins entered tonight’s game with a patient approach that paid off for them. Of course, it helped that Bieber did not have his best command tonight, as he threw just 58.8% of his pitches for strikes. The Twins were able to work three walks off Bieber, who had only six on the season entering play tonight. When they weren’t walking, the Twins also worked a lot of deep counts, which helped inflate Bieber’s pitch count, and get him out of the game after six innings.
The Twins got their two long runs of the game in the second inning, after Miguel Sano had a leadoff walk, followed by Marwin Gonzalez who drew a one out walk a couple batters later. That set the table for Luis Arraez, who delivered with a opposite field double, scoring Sano from second. Then, after Ryan Jeffers reach on a fielder’s choice where Marwin Gonzalez was thrown out from third, Max Kepler came up big with this two out hit.
The extensive use of the Twins bullpen over the past few games finally caught up with them in tonight’s ballgame. After Rich Hill’s five strong innings, it was Jorge Alcala who Rocco Baldelli called to in the sixth to protect the Twins one run lead. Though Alcala had been pitching well to begin the season, tonight was not his night. After giving up a leadoff single to Jose Ramirez, he left a center-cut 0-2 slider to Francisco Lindor that he wishes he could have back.
Unfortunately, Alcala’s struggles did not end there. After walking Carlos Santana, Alcala gave up a one out double to Tyler Naquin which brought Santana around to score, giving the Indians a 4-2 lead, which would ultimately be the final score of the game, believe it or not.
The Twins had a threat working in the seventh, thanks to an opposite field single by Ryan Jeffers and a walk from Max Kepler, giving the Twins runners on first and second with just one out, and Jorge Polanco up at the plate. That threat would immediately be neutralized, however, as a hot groundball right to Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez would lead to an inning ending double play.
Sean Poppin had a quality outing pitching the seventh and eighth innings for the Twins. He gave up walks to the first two batters he faced, but then retired the last five batters that he faced, which included an inning ending double play and two strikeouts. If nothing else, this helped save the Twins bullpen for the next couple of games.