CLEVELAND -- Following a dispiriting and rain-delayed 9-0 loss to the White Sox on Thursday, the Twins began an 11-game road trip needing a bounce-back win against the American League Central-leading Indians at Progressive Field on Friday. Minnesota looked to starter Adalberto Mejia to deliver a strong outing, and the
CLEVELAND -- Following a dispiriting and rain-delayed 9-0 loss to the White Sox on Thursday, the Twins began an 11-game road trip needing a bounce-back win against the American League Central-leading Indians at Progressive Field on Friday. Minnesota looked to starter Adalberto Mejia to deliver a strong outing, and the left-hander came through.
Backed by four-run second inning, Mejia pitched the Twins to a 5-0 victory over the Indians, closing the gap in the division to 1 1/2 games. Although Meija walked five in five frames, he only allowed two hits, struck out four and worked out of bases-loaded jams in second and fourth innings en route to his second win of the season.
"I thought that I could have gone one more inning," Mejia said after the game. "But it was fun. I obviously can take some confidence from it."
Meija's outing was a much-needed one for the Twins' starting rotation, which has struggled with consistency as a whole this season. Although they have gone 16-7 in games started by ace Ervin Santana and rookie right-hander Jose Berrios, they have only gone 20-27 with any other starter on the mound.
"I thought [Mejia's] stuff was good," manager Paul Molitor said. "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 seemed like he made some of his best pitches when he got to full counts."
Molitor said that Meija got himself in some trouble throughout the game, but the skipper was happy with the way that he was able to weather the storm.
"He did get big outs, and he got five zeros," Molitor said. "I think at one point, I looked up and he had 88 pitches and he only recorded 10 outs. Somehow he got those last five outs over his next 12, 15 pitches, and we moved onto the bullpen."
Coming into Friday, the Twins had lost 14 of their last 17 games against the Indians dating back to last season. The win for Minnesota comes just five days after the Indians concluded a four-game sweep of the Twins at Target Field. In that four-game set, the Twins were outscored 28-8 and lost the two-game division lead they had built going into the series.
"It helps us a lot," Meija said of the win. "It obviously shows us that we can beat them and that they are not unbeatable. It helps us for the upcoming game tomorrow and the rest of the series that are coming up against them this season."
In their last five games against the Tribe before Friday, the Twins' offense had not scored more than three runs in a game, resulting in an 0-5 record. But on Friday, the Twins got two RBIs each from James Dozier and Jorge Polanco, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning.
"A win like this is big," Polanco said. "We came in here to win. Things went right, we got the first one and now we have to keep this going."
"Yeah, the trip is a little daunting as you head out knowing you're going to 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."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.