CLEVELAND -- When Greg Allen walked into the Indians' clubhouse on Thursday morning, his first objective was to locate his locker. This was the rookie center fielder's fifth trip from the Minors to Cleveland this season and his stall has moved multiple times."It's kind of like a scavenger hunt," Allen
CLEVELAND -- When Greg Allen walked into the Indians' clubhouse on Thursday morning, his first objective was to locate his locker. This was the rookie center fielder's fifth trip from the Minors to Cleveland this season and his stall has moved multiple times.
"It's kind of like a scavenger hunt," Allen said with a laugh after Thursday's 5-4 walk-off win over the Twins at Progressive Field. "I come in, I could be there or there. I think I bounced around to probably two or three lockers this year. If I have a locker, I'm happy. So, I'll take it."
Shuttling back and forth between Triple-A Columbus and the Majors can be a mental grind for a young player, but each journey back to the big leagues has helped Allen's comfort level. With comfort comes increased confidence, and that played a critical role for Cleveland in the ninth, when Allen was the catalyst for the decisive rally.
Allen -- promoted prior to the game against Minnesota due to center fielder Leonys Martin (undisclosed illness) landing on the 10-day disabled list -- led off with a single against reliever Addison Reed. Then, the fleet-footed outfielder stole second and pounded the dirt in celebration when he beat the throw from Twins catcher Bobby Wilson.
Two batters later, Allen crossed the plate on Michael Brantley's walk-off single to right field, igniting the second walk-off party at Progressive Field in as many days. It also marked the first walk-off wins in consecutive games for the American League Central-leading Indians (64-50) since Aug. 18-19, 2016. The Indians went 5-2 on their homestand.
"I would hope that's really good for his confidence," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Allen's performance. "He stepped right in and directly helped us win a game with his bat, with his legs, almost with his glove. That's good. That was exciting."
The late rally came after ace Corey Kluber walked away with a no-decision after piling up 117 pitches in seven innings. The right-hander blanked the Twins for the first four frames before running into some trouble -- aided by a costly missed catch -- over the next two innings.
Kluber allowed one run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, but then yielded a three-run homer to Jorge Polanco in the sixth to pull the game into a 4-4- deadlock. One play earlier, right fielder Melky Cabrera was unable to reel in a deep fly ball off the bat of Eddie Rosario, setting up Polanco's first home run of the season.
"I couldn't care less about if I get a win," Kluber said. "The bottom line is, we won the game."
Polanco's blast washed away the impact of the four runs the Indians' lineup produced against Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, who exited after four innings.
In the wake of his walk-off home run on Wednesday night, Francisco Lindor delivered a pair of run-scoring hits, giving him five consecutive multihit games. The Tribe shortstop came through with a two-run single in the second and added an RBI double in the fourth. Yonder Alonso initially put the Indians on the board with a solo shot off Berrios in the second.
After Lindor took a beating from his teammates in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's walk-off homer, it was Brantley's turn. Following Brantley's game-winning single to right, Lindor was the first to greet the veteran outfielder -- first with high-fives and then with some friendly fists to the helmet.
The mob soon followed. Jason Kipnis arrived and dumped the contents of a Gatorade bottle on Brantley's head. Edwin Encarnacion yanked at the left fielder's jersey. Carlos Carrasco delivered the dousing of baby powder, turning Brantley's hair from black to white. Yan Gomes shook two water bottles at Brantley.
"I'll take the celebration as long as we're winning," Brantley said. " It's tough. You get some Gatorade, get some powder, you name it, it's coming at you. It's a win, everybody gets to celebrate. We get to have a happy flight."
Brantley knew it was Allen who made the mob scene possible.
"He does a phenomenal job," Brantley said. "He's a great kid with a great head on his shoulders. He understands that when he comes up here, we expect him to do his best, and he is doing it day in and day out."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One-percent Melk: In the sixth inning, Rosario lifted a pitch to deep right field, where Cabrera drifted back toward the wall. Cabrera made a jumping attempt at a catch, but the ball struck his glove and dropped to the warning track. Per Statcast™, the play had a catch probability of 99 percent (66 feet needed to be covered in 6.0 seconds of opportunity time), but Rosario was rewarded with a single. The next batter, Polanco, then drilled a pitch from Kluber to right for a game-tying, three-run home run.
"I thought he deserved better," Francona said of Kluber's pitching line. "We got the fly ball. We all thought it was a fly ball [out] and it just carried. Melky didn't get behind it and ended up getting up against the wall. Then, [Kluber] left a cutter middle of the plate to Polanco."
Double trouble: Allen nearly made an incredible diving catch in the fifth inning on a fly ball into the left-center gap off the bat of Max Kepler. Per Statcast™, the play had just a 25-percent catch probability, but Allen got a glove on the ball before it skipped away to give Kepler a leadoff double. Two batters later, Kepler scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Cave.
"Looking at the replay, it looks like I may have had a chance on it," Allen said. "Unfortunately, my body kind of stuck on the grass, my hand got rolled under and the ball popped out. … I wasn't able to make the play, but I'm definitely looking forward to having that next opportunity and making sure I come up with it. "
Alonso's solo shot in the second inning gave the first baseman 20 homers on the season and Cleveland an MLB-leading four players with 20-plus long balls on the year. Jose Ramirez (33), Lindor (29) and Encarnacion (25) are the others. The Yankees and Rockies are next on that list with three each.
HE SAID IT
"It's just a matter of getting in position and feeling comfortable in my mechanics, so I can really put my foot on the gas. Today, I think was a good step forward. As nice as it is with my fastball, my breaking ball improves with it as well. So, I'll take it." --Andrew Miller, on his scoreless ninth inning
"I think it really comes down to having trust and confidence. More so, I think the coaching staff having the trust, the confidence in me to give me that freedom to have that green light there and give me that choice. At that point, you let your instincts take over, and I was fortunate to get a decent jump. I got in by a hair." -- Allen, on his ninth-inning steal
Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (6-2, 4.58 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe on Friday, when the White Sox host the Indians in the opener of a three-game set at 8:10 p.m. ET at Guaranteed Rate Field. Bieber is 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in five outings against the American League Central this year. Chicago will counter with lefty Carlos Rodon (3-3, 2.94).
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.