MINNEAPOLIS -- Yan Gomes takes pride in prioritizing defense, making anything he does in the batter's box a bonus for the Indians. In the opener of a doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday, the catcher came up big on both fronts, helping Cleveland to a 9-3 win at Target Field.Gomes
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yan Gomes takes pride in prioritizing defense, making anything he does in the batter's box a bonus for the Indians. In the opener of a doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday, the catcher came up big on both fronts, helping Cleveland to a 9-3 win at Target Field.
Gomes went 3-for-3 with a three-run home run, one walk, a hit-by-pitch and four RBIs for the American League Central-leading Indians, who won their sixth straight and pushed the third-place Twins seven games back in the standings. The catcher also helped starter Carlos Carrasco grind out five innings, and delivered a key pickoff throw to halt a potential Twins rally while the game was still close.
"It's so nice with Gomer. My goodness," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Gomes' performance. "The home run [was big]. The game had a little bit of a feel where we needed to spread it out."
With the victory, the Indians have now won their last 10 games at Target Field, dating back to last season. That is Cleveland's longest road winning streak in Minnesota in franchise history.
"Losing is going to happen, the first game here today was disappointing in the fashion that we lost," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "With all the opportunities that we had, to come up short in multiple areas of the game, it was a little bit unfortunate."
Gomes' home run came in a four-run eighth inning against Minnesota reliever Thomas Pressly, who also yielded a solo shot to Jason Kipnis. Twins starter Kyle Gibson lasted four-plus innings, in which he was charged with three runs on seven hits. Indians right fielder Jay Bruce (two-run single) and Kipnis (RBI single) each chipped in against Gibson.
Carrasco endured a rocky start to his afternoon, but the big righty reeled things in and limited the Twins to one run (on a Byron Buxton homer) and ended with nine strikeouts. Jorge Polanco later contributed an RBI triple against Tribe reliever Bryan Shaw in the seventh.
In the eighth, Gomes also made an impressive tag to nab Joe Mauer at the plate on the tail end of an 8-4-2 relay on an Eddie Rosario hit off the wall in right-center.
"We had the good relay throw," Francona said. "Without that -- that was followed up with a double -- we might still be playing. There were some things that may get lost in a long game that really helped us win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Polanco picked off: Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, the Twins had the makings of a rally with runners on first and second with no outs. Carrasco then struck out James Dozier, setting the stage for a critical play. With Max Kepler batting, Gomes came up firing after a Carrasco pitch, picking off Polanco at second base. Per Statcast™, Polanco's secondary lead pulled him 21 feet away from the bag. Kepler then grounded out to end the frame.
"The throw to second there was unbelievable, man," Carrasco said. "I didn't think he was going to throw there, but he did it and got the out."
Carrasco's escape: After the Indians forced Gibson to toil through 31 pitches in the top of the first, the Twins answered by making Carrasco work through 39 in the home half. Minnesota loaded the bases with no outs, but the Tribe starter found a way to sidestep harm in the draining inning. Carrasco struck out Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, and then induced an inning-ending groundout off the bat of Eduardo Escobar.
"That's a hard way to start the game," Francona said. "So, staying out there for five and for the most part keeping them off the scoreboard, we'll take it. That had a chance to be a complete bullpen game."
"It was obviously a huge relief to get that monkey off my back. It's a good feeling knowing that I contributed today. That was really the main thing. I'm happy to get the hit there, and I'll move forward now and get back to being myself and helping the team." --Indians rookie Bradley Zimmer, on snapping an 0-for-36 drought with a single in the ninth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With 19 strikeouts in the win, the Indians pitching staff has now recorded at least 10 strikeouts in 13 consecutive games. That extended Cleveland's Major League record. No other team on record has enjoyed a streak of that kind consisting of more than nine games.
The Twins' 19 offensive strikeouts during Game 1 against the Tribe set a franchise record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
RAMIREZ EXITS WITH INJURY
In the second inning, Indians All-Star Jose Ramirez was hit on the right arm by a fastball from Gibson, forcing the third baseman to exit the game. Giovanny Urshela took over for Ramirez for the remainder of the game. The Indians were relieved that X-rays on Ramirez's arm came back negative for any structural damage.
"He's OK," Francona said. "It kind of took some of the fun out of the first game for me. I was really worried about that. The way he reacted to it, the trainers kind of being indecisive, it was kind of nagging at me. That was good to hear [that it was only a bad bruise]." More >
PERKINS RETURNS Left-hander Glen Perkins made his long awaited return to the Twins in the ninth inning. Perkins recorded one out in his first Major League appearance since April 10 of last season, while being charged with two runs on as many hits. It was Perkins' first outing at Target Field since Oct. 2, 2015. The former All-Star closer threw a total of 19 pitches, including 10 strikes, and hit two batters.
"It felt like a Major League debut, but different," Perkins said. "I think the emotions were there, the nerves were there that I didn't know if they would be there or not. I went into that not knowing how I was going to feel." More >
Indians: Ace Corey Kluber (11-3, 2.71 ERA) continues his AL Cy Young Award candidacy on Friday at 8:15 p.m. ET, when the Indians open a key three-game set with the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Kluber, who has not faced Kansas City this year, is 8-1 with a 1.85 ERA and 151 strikeouts against 17 walks over his last 14 starts (102 1/3 innings).
Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana (12-7, 3.27) is slated to start the series opener at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday against the D-backs at Target Field. In his last start, Santana allowed four runs (two earned) across five innings against the Tigers. He is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in four career starts vs. the D-backs.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
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.
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Twins on Thursday.