Bats perking up as Indians settle for DH split

McKenzie's solid outing leads to G1 win, but Cleveland outslugged in G2

September 15th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- Following a disappointing homestand, the Indians and their struggling offense got an off-day and started a road trip, hoping to change their fortunes.

The offense found some traction in Minnesota as Cleveland split a doubleheader on Tuesday.

Amed Rosario, José Ramírez and Franmil Reyes had three consecutive RBI hits to spark the offense, but Cleveland lost the second game of Tuesday’s split doubleheader, 6-3, in seven innings against the Twins at Target Field.

Rosario and Ramírez each doubled and Reyes singled during a three-run third inning.

“I saw some good things tonight with some guys having some good at-bats and staying on the ball,” interim manager DeMarlo Hale said.

The Indians’ hitters were able to build on a 3-1 win in seven innings in the opening game of the doubleheader, but Game 2 starter Logan Allen allowed four runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Allen used a new curveball grip that he tested in the bullpen in recent days after speaking with Shane Bieber, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.

“I’ve had the same curveball grip forever,” Allen said. “I throw a slider that’s pretty slow and big. My curveball’s a little similar to that, as far as velocity, and has a little bit of a hump in it. Even though I am trying to steal strikes with it, I have the ability to spin the ball really well. So, just talking through some things with [Bieber], some grip stuff. Just started throwing it in my last bullpen and I was like, ‘Wow, I like this.’

“As you saw in the first inning, the results were pretty good. It had good bite to it, swing-and-miss, much better tunneling, it would come off my fastball and sinker much better. So, it was just something I wanted to add in. I’m very, very happy with it.”

Triston McKenzie gave up just one run in six innings with seven strikeouts in the Game 1 win.

Cleveland, which had been limited to 10 total runs in a seven-game homestand, got going with clutch hitting in Tuesday’s first game as Austin Hedges delivered an RBI double in the top of the seventh. Yu Chang added an RBI single, which was originally scored as an error on Twins third baseman Luis Arraez.

“Whatever it is, I’d like to take that into the non-clutch situations and do that all the time,” Hedges said after coming through in the clutch in the first game. “Sometimes in those situations, I simplify things a little bit better because that hit, that good at-bat just matters a little bit more.”

The Indians, who were no-hit by Milwaukee on Saturday, were shut out three times during the previous homestand. The Brewers’ strong pitching no doubt played a part, but Minnesota held Cleveland to six runs in four games prior to the Milwaukee series.

Facing Joe Ryan for the second time in less than a week, the Indians had some trouble in the beginning of Tuesday’s first game but broke through against the bullpen. With left-hander Charlie Barnes recalled from Triple-A as the 29th man for the doubleheader and starting the nightcap for Minnesota, the Indians found some success.

Oscar Mercado had a one-out single to start the third-inning rally. Rosario laced a double to right-center and Ramírez followed with a liner down the left-field line. Reyes drove in the final run with a flare to left.

“You understand that they go through periods, and then last week we kind of went through a stretch where we ran into some pretty good pitching,” Hale said. “But these guys work their tail off. You see some adjustments being made, so hopefully it kind of can continue on throughout the remainder of this season.”