Miguel Sano smashed a three-run homer to complete the comeback and knot the game at 8 in the seventh inning, but Francisco Lindor answered in the eighth with a solo shot to dead-center off Twins reliever Addison Reed to score the go-ahead run.
If it had completed the win, Minnesota would have topped the franchise record for largest come-from-behind victory. That record was set on May 10, 2000, when the Twins erased a seven-run deficit to beat Cleveland, 10-9. Minnesota's nearly-completed comeback came just a day after it almost erased a 9-0 deficit in an 11-8 loss to the Royals.
"You just gotta see how the guys come in tomorrow," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's deflating when you try to make comebacks like the way we did, but this game doesn't allow you to have those things linger very long, because the hole will get deeper."
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi owned a 2.63 ERA for the month of May entering Thursday, but the final day of the month proved disastrous. He allowed eight runs (seven earned) and saw his ERA for the season balloon from 3.34 to 4.14 by the time he exited after 3 2/3 innings.
The Indians exploited nearly every pitch from the start, scoring three runs in the first through hits by Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Melky Cabrera. The Indians put six balls in play during the first inning, and four of them left the bat at an exit velocity of 100.8 mph or greater.
"They hit some mistakes," Odorizzi said. "I got to two strikes on a lot of people and I feel like and they were kind of looking for some of the stuff I threw, I guess. They were on it.
"It's funny. I was talking to [Fernando] Romero this morning about last night and said, 'Hey, it's going to happen from time to time in your career. Just move on from it. Remember it.' It's funny to pass that knowledge along to him, and now I have to look myself in the mirror. I've been through it before. We all have as pitchers."
The bottom of the fourth inning proved even more problematic for Minnesota. Jason Kipnis led off the inning with a double, and three batters later, Lindor lofted a three-run homer into the right-field bleachers to make it 7-0. Jose Ramirez then added a solo homer to make it 8-0.
"I think Jake, we've seen him mostly good, and tonight, he had trouble locating," Molitor said. "A lot of his pitches seemed to run back into the middle. They can make you pay fast. There's no doubt about that. Top of the lineup, really all the way through."
In his Major League debut, Indians' rookie Shane Bieber held the Twins to two hits through the first four innings. The Twins broke through in the fifth, though, when Robbie Grossman and Ryan LaMarre each delivered RBI singles out of the Nos. 8 and 9 spots in the order.
Minnesota finally chased Bieber when Logan Morrison and Eduardo Escobar launched back-to-back homers in the bottom of the sixth. Then in the seventh, Sano stepped to the plate and crushed his game-tying homer off of Zach McAllister.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY In the bottom of the eighth, the Indians nearly tacked on an insurance run when Encarnacion hit a grounder to Morrison at first with runners in the corners. Morrison tagged first for an out and then threw home, where catcher Mitch Garver applied the tag and a sliding Michael Brantley was called out for the third out of the inning. The Indians challenged the call at the plate, and after a review, the call was upheld and the inning ended.
UP NEXT The Twins will face Cleveland in Game 2 of a four-game series Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Jose Berrios (5-5, 3.67 ERA) will take the hill for Minnesota in search of a fourth straight strong outing. Over his previous three starts, Berrios has 27 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings while allowing just five runs. Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 3.98 ERA) will get the start for the Indians.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.