CLEVELAND -- It ended with yet another walk-off loss, but it was another positive night for third baseman Miguel Sano, who went 2-for-4 with a double and a game-tying solo homer in the ninth.It wasn't enough, however, as reliever Trevor Hildenberger served up a game-winning three-run homer to Francisco Lindor
CLEVELAND -- It ended with yet another walk-off loss, but it was another positive night for third baseman Miguel Sano, who went 2-for-4 with a double and a game-tying solo homer in the ninth.
It wasn't enough, however, as reliever Trevor Hildenberger served up a game-winning three-run homer to Francisco Lindor in a 5-2 loss to the Indians on Wednesday night at Progressive Field. It was Minnesota's 11th walk-off loss of the year, which leads the Majors.
"It was a big moment down there to take a nice at-bat," Sano said. "Like [assistant hitting coach] Rudy [Hernandez] told me: 'Stay positive. Try to drive the ball to the middle. Find a good pitch to hit.' That's what I did."
Sano tied the game with a leadoff homer in the ninth off closer Cody Allen, smacking a 2-1 curveball to right-center field for his first homer since returning from a six-week stint in the Minors. Sano is hitting .278/.381/.472 with a homer, four doubles and four RBIs in 11 games since his return.
"I just think it was a matter of time the way his at-bats have been going, the swings he has been taking," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "To stay on that breaking ball, especially after the one up and in, was a nice response. It was probably the biggest one he's had for us since he's been back."
The homer helped right-hander Jake Odorizzi avoid the loss after allowing two runs (one earned) over 4 2/3 innings with no strikeouts. In 150 career starts, Odorizzi had only failed to strike out a hitter once: an injury-shortened outing in which he went one inning against the Red Sox on April 15, 2017.
"I never looked at myself as a strikeout guy -- I'm not upset about it in the least bit," Odorizzi said. "I induced a lot of weak contact. I thought, compared to the first couple of times I faced them, this was the best I've been against them. That's all I can really be happy about."
Odorizzi registered five swings and misses -- all on fastballs -- but was hurt by 26 foul balls, as he needed 101 pitches to record 14 outs. The Indians jumped out to an early lead, but it was keyed by a leadoff double from Lindor that was misplayed by center fielder Jake Cave. Cave initially broke in on the line drive to center, but it ended up going over his head for a double despite it having a 99-percent catch probability, per Statcast™.
Michael Brantley followed with a sinking liner that Cave nearly snared in center, only for it to fall out of his glove for an error to allow Lindor to reach third. Edwin Encarnacion brought home the game's first run on a sacrifice fly to center, as Cave couldn't throw out the speedy Lindor as he tagged up from third.
"I had to pitch around it and just tried to do my best to pick up Jake," Odorizzi said. "I know he feels horrible for everything. He's going to learn from it. He's going to do better from it. But I was trying to do my best to limit the damage, get him off the hook."
Odorizzi ran into trouble again in the fifth, when Yan Gomes opened with a single and Brandon Guyer bunted down the third-base line and Sano couldn't handle it. Odorizzi induced a hard-hit grounder from Lindor to second base, but John Forsythe booted the potential double-play ball, only getting the out at first. It set the stage for Brantley's go-ahead RBI groundout to shortstop.
"They got one of their runs on a play that was an in-between hop and we couldn't field it cleanly and only got one out," Molitor said. "Brantley hits one off the end of the bat and we couldn't get a double play there, either."
Offensively, right-hander Mike Clevinger held Minnesota in check, allowing one run over seven strong innings. The Twins, though, committed another costly mistake in the third, when they had two runners on with one out, only to see Mitch Garver picked off second base by catcher Gomes. Garver was initially ruled safe, but it was overturned after replay. It helped Clevinger escape the jam, after he got Jorge Polanco to pop out to end the inning.
The Twins scored their lone run against Clevinger in the fourth to tie the game, as Sano led off with a double and scored on a one-out double off the wall from Forsythe. Forsythe, though, was stranded there after Logan Morrison grounded out and Garver flied out to right.
After Odorizzi departed, relievers Trevor May, Matt Magill and Taylor Rogers combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Twins in the game. But Hildenberger struggled for a second straight night, and saw his ERA rise to 9.90 in 11 appearances since the All-Star break after giving up the two-out homer to Lindor.
"We've been using him a lot," Molitor said. "I've got to say, for the most part he's done a good job stepping up. Lindor's just a really good hitter. He got him last night, and tonight it looked like he was looking for that changeup and he was able to keep it fair."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With Forsythe at second with one out in the ninth, the Twins let Morrison swing away on a 3-0 count and he hit a comebacker to Allen, who was able to start a relay to throw out Forsythe between second and third. Morrison advanced to second on the play, but the Indians challenged the call on the field. After a review, Morrison remained safe, but after a walk from Garver, pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza struck out to end the inning.
The 11 walk-off losses ranks are tied for the fourth-most in a season in Twins franchise history. The club record is 15 walk-off losses in 1964. The MLB record is 16, shared by the 1969 Giants, the 1975 Astros and the 1966 Red Sox.
"Is it a record? It's tough," Molitor said. "They've come in a lot of different fashions. Probably at least half have been home runs. But there's been other things that have caused us to walk off with a loss. It's just kind of the nature of the game when you're on the road playing close games, as we seem to. There just hasn't been a lot of separation in a lot of these games and it just comes down to the last couple of innings and you find yourself in that predicament. It has been a part of the storyline of the season."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Right fielder Max Kepler helped keep the Twins alive with an impressive leaping catch up against the wall in right-center to rob Gomes of extra bases with one out in the ninth and Jason Kipnis at first. After the grab, Kepler flipped the ball to Eddie Rosario to throw in so that Kipnis couldn't tag up.
HE SAID IT
"I'm feeling good. A lot of work. I've got my mind positive and I'm ready to do my stuff every day and come work. Every day, it's the same thing and I'm going to try to stay positive all the time." -- Sano, who is feeling better after improving his conditioning during his time in the Minors after undergoing offseason surgery on his left shin
Right-hander Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.51 ERA) will start for the Twins in the series finale on Thursday at 12:10 p.m. CT in what should be a pitchers' duel with Indians ace and fellow All-Star Corey Kluber (14-6, 2.63 ERA). Berrios is coming off a strong start against the Royals, allowing two runs over seven innings with six strikeouts. Kluber threw a three-hit shutout against the Angels in his last start.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.