SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Amidst all the noise within Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Tuesday night, Corey Kluber put his intense focus on full display for the raucous crowd. The Indians' ace ignored the tambourines and thundersticks and whistles and horns and chants, and delivered another strong performance.In a 6-1
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Amidst all the noise within Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Tuesday night, Corey Kluber put his intense focus on full display for the raucous crowd. The Indians' ace ignored the tambourines and thundersticks and whistles and horns and chants, and delivered another strong performance.
In a 6-1 victory over the Twins in the opener of the 2018 Puerto Rico Series, Francisco Lindor delivered the signature moment with a towering two-run home run that electrified a crowd that hardly needed help. The Puerto Rico-born shortstop answered a curtain call and stole the spotlight, and that was probably the preference of the stoic Kluber, who never seeks attention as his list of accolades grows.
"He was terrific," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He was Kluber-esque. You kind of come to expect it. He's set a high bar for himself, but it's fun to watch when he gets going."
Backed by a trio of home runs -- Lindor's shot in the fifth, accompanied by back-to-back blasts by Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley in the sixth -- Kluber churned his way through Minnesota's lineup. Over 6 2/3 innings, Kluber limited the Twins to one run on five hits and ended with six strikeouts and two walks. With that showing, the leader of Cleveland's rotation continued his stellar start to the season, trimming his ERA to 1.52 through four starts.
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Francona was pleased to see the Tribe's offense continue to add on runs as the night progressed, especially after rainouts and off-days led to a three-day break from games.
"When you see the way Klubes was pitching, when you get those add-on runs, it means a lot," Francona said. "Brantley took some tremendous swings. That was good to see. It was good to see Josey hit one. We're looking to get those guys hot and rolling and it looked like we started to and then we had the layoff."
The Twins' lone run off Kluber came in the seventh, when James Dozier brought Max Kepler home with a double to the wall in right-center. Tribe first baseman Yonder Alonso got that run back for Cleveland with a leadoff home run off Twins reliever Gabriel Moya to open the eighth inning.
"We got the win. That's all that matters," Lindor said. "And I wasn't the only one that contributed to it. There was a lot of different players that contributed. Pretty much everybody in the lineup had something to do with it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lindor's homecoming homer: During Monday's off-day, Lindor visited his former grammar school in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. He heard chants of his name from the children who attend Escuela Villa Marina and view him as an inspiration. One day later, it was the Hiram Bithorn Stadium crowd that chanted, "Lindor! Lindor!" in the fifth. The shortstop then belted a 3-2 pitch from Twins starter Jake Odorizzi to right, where it carried just over the wall to put Cleveland ahead, 2-0. The crowd erupted and Lindor pumped his arms to urge them to become even louder.
"I'm in Puerto Rico in front of my family," Lindor said, "in front of my friends, in front of this beautiful Puerto Rican crowd and I'm just excited. I touched second base and looked in the dugout. Everybody's hands are up, so I put my hands up. I looked around the stadium, everybody's are up, so I keep putting my hands up and running. I was celebrating. It's extremely emotional."
Kluber dodges damage The Twins had the makings of a rally in the fourth inning, when Puerto Rico-native Eddie Rosario led off with a single and Logan Morrison followed with a walk. Kluber regained control with a strikeout of Eduardo Escobar before inducing consecutive groundouts off the bats of Max Kepler and Robbie Grossman to escape unscathed.
According to STATS LLC, Lindor became the seventh Puerto Rico-born player to hit a regular-season home run in Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Jose Vidro leads the way with three, followed by two from Javy Lopez, and one apiece by Ramon Castro, Juan Gonzalez, Felipe Lopez and Bengie Molina.
HE SAID IT
"With Frankie and all of the pressure of playing at home and all that stuff, we're rooting for him and he stepped up in a big way. It was a great swing for us. It was cool to see." -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis
"It's almost like a postseason game, or Opening Day. The constant buzz. They're ready to make noise. It was fun. It was a great atmosphere. It was electric. It really was." --Brantley, on the crowd
"You guys could have skipped it and just gone and talked to Lindor." --Twins manager Paul Molitor, when reporters interviewed him after the game
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Alonso's blast off Moya carried down the right-field line, hooking around the fair pole before landing in what looked like foul territory. First-base umpire Eric Cooper signaled immediately that it was a home run, but the Twins asked the umpires to have the shot examined via instant replay. After a brief review, the call stood and Cleveland took a 6-1 lead.
Puerto Rican native Roberto Perez will be behind the plate for the Indians on Wednesday, when the Tribe faces the Twins at 7:10 p.m. ET at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Righty Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 3.48 ERA) will start for Cleveland in the second game in the 2018 Puerto Rico Series. Right-hander Jose Berrios, a native of Bayamon, will take the mound for Minnesota.
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.