CLEVELAND -- The Indians returned home as the American League Central leaders, but the Twins still plan on having a say in the race this summer. On Friday night, Minnesota lefty Adalberto Mejia quieted Cleveland's recently scorching lineup, guiding the Twins to a 5-0 win at Progressive Field.The Twins, who
CLEVELAND -- The Indians returned home as the American League Central leaders, but the Twins still plan on having a say in the race this summer. On Friday night, Minnesota lefty Adalberto Mejia quieted Cleveland's recently scorching lineup, guiding the Twins to a 5-0 win at Progressive Field.
The Twins, who were swept by the Tribe over four games in three days last weekend, took the opener of this three-game set behind Mejia's effort and some timely offense. James Dozier contributed a pair of run-scoring hits and Jorge Polanco delivered a two-run homer to back Mejia, who avoided the potential harm of five walks with five shutout innings.
"I thought his stuff was good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Mejia. "I think sometimes he tries to get a little fancy, a little cute with his stuff and changes his arm angle when he's making good pitches over the top. Some of the counts, 0-2, 1-2, where he let guys back in, they battled, fouled off some tough pitches, but [it] seemed like he made some of his best pitches when he got to full counts."
With the win, the Twins pulled within 1 1/2 games of the AL Central-leading Indians, who averaged 7.6 runs per game in their previous nine contests (8-1 record).
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"Yeah, the trip is a little daunting as you head out knowing you're gonna face a real good team, Cleveland, as hot as anybody right now," Molitor said. "To get off to a good start, feels good to get a win on the board against these guys."
Right-hander Trevor Bauer took the loss after giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings, in which he struck out four and walked one. Four of the hits Bauer yielded came in a four-run second inning. Dozier doubled home a run in that frame and later added an RBI single off Bauer in the seventh.
"I just tried to get as deep as possible to save the bullpen, if nothing else, keep the team in it," Bauer said. "Our offense has been hitting the ball really well, and four runs isn't a whole lot for us. I just tried to keep it there. We had chances. It was just one of those nights where we couldn't come through."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Polanco powers up: Minnesota's four-run outburst in the second inning was highlighted by Polanco's two-run homer to right. After Eddie Rosario reached on an infield single -- one that bounced beyond a diving Bauer and scored a run -- Polanco drilled a full-count fastball that was over the heart of the plate. The homer rocketed off the shortstop's bat at 102 mph and traveled a projected 404 feet, per Statcast™.
"I was really happy that he responded from his error defensively and went on and made some nice plays after that," Molitor said of Polanco. "I think he's working hard. We try to back him off a little bit and get him to slow the game down."
Locked, when loaded: Two singles and an error helped the Indians to a bases-loaded opportunity with one out in the fourth. Mejia responded by striking out Erik Gonzalez and inducing a flyout to left off the bat of Francisco Lindor to escape unscathed. It marked the second time within the first four frames that Cleveland left the bases loaded. Against Mejia, the Indians went 0-for-8 with runners on base, 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
"When we got the runners on, we just weren't able to do anything," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We started either chasing out of the zone or getting ourselves in a hole and weren't able to capitalize." More >
"I don't want to walk him, so I made the decision to get more of the plate. I made sure to elevate it, because I don't think he has a hit on a fastball from a righty in the upper third of the zone this year. And he hit that one. Not a great pitch, but I defend the logic behind throwing it." -- Bauer, on the pitch Polanco hit for his home run
"I was extremely nervous. I was more nervous in the 'pen than I was on the mound. But as soon as that phone call came and [Twins bullpen coach] Eddie [Guardado] told me it was me, my stomach dropped and your heart jumps in your throat. But once I got up on the mound, I felt normal. Luckily I was able to throw enough strikes to get some guys out." -- Trevor Hildenberger, on making his Major League debut in the ninth inning
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With a runner on first and no outs in the bottom of the eighth, Indians first baseman Carlos Santana grounded into what was ruled a 6-4-3 double play. But after a bang-bang play at first, Francona opted to challenge the call. Following a 57-second review, the call was overturned and Santana was ruled safe at first. It would go for naught, however, as Twins reliever Taylor Rogers retired the next two Tribe batters.
Twins:Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.56 ERA) will take the mound in Saturday's 3:10 p.m. CT tilt against the Indians at Progressive Field. The right-hander pitched against the Tribe on Sunday, but was handed the loss after allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings of work.
Indians: Ace Corey Kluber (6-2, 3.58 ERA) is slated to take the ball for the Tribe in Saturday afternoon's clash with the Twins. In four starts since coming off the disabled list on June 1, Kluber is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA, 39 strikeouts and four walks in 28 innings. He is 4-0 with a 3.90 ERA at home this season.
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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland and covered the Twins on Friday.