CLEVELAND -- With catchers Jason Castro and Bobby Wilson on the disabled list, Willians Astudillo will get plenty of looks at catcher down the stretch, while Robbie Grossman is expected to remain in the mix in the outfield and at designated hitter with Logan Morrison out for the season after hip surgery.
Both took advantage of their playing opportunities on Wednesday, as Astudillo connected on his first career homer in the third and Grossman delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh to lift the Twins to a 4-3 win over the Indians at Progressive Field. Minnesota and Cleveland are 9-9 against each other this year with the season series on the line on Thursday.
"Not a ton of offense, but we got some big hits," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Astudillo getting his first homer, and Robbie coming through with the big hit to put us ahead. Nice two-out rally for us. It's not going to save your season to beat the Indians in 10 out of 19, but I wouldn't mind accomplishing that tomorrow."
Astudillo got the Twins on the board with a leadoff home run off Adam Plutko in the third, while Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario both doubled in the fifth to bring home a run.
"Hitting my first Major League home run felt really good, because it contributed to a win," Astudillo said through a translator. "I was looking for a fastball. It was a first-pitch ball, so I thought fastball again."
But it was Grossman who came through with the game's biggest hit on a two-out single with the bases loaded off Indians reliever Cody Allen. Miguel Sano was thrown out at third on the play, but the damage was done.
"[Allen] was struggling out of the stretch, and when he moved to the windup, he threw a couple good pitches," Grossman said. "The pitch I fouled off before was probably a better pitch than the one I hit. I was just glad it found a hole. Got enough to put barrel on it."
The offense backed rookie right-hander Kohl Stewart, who has allowed exactly three runs in each of his four career starts. He nearly got through five innings for the first time this season, but gave up a two-out RBI double to Edwin Encarnacion that knocked him from the game after 4 2/3 innings.
Stewart labored through a 36-pitch first inning, allowing two runs as Yonder Alonso and Melky Cabrera connected on back-to-back RBI singles. He escaped a bases-loaded jam, getting Yan Gomes to ground out on a hard-hit ball to third. He settled down from there, retiring 12 of 13 before running into trouble in the fifth.
"As the game went on, I felt a lot better," Stewart said. "I felt like I was attacking hitters and getting ahead and better things were happening. Just started trusting myself in that second inning."
The bullpen was strong after Stewart's departure. Trevor May, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings on two hits. Rogers threw two scoreless frames, helped by a double-play lineout to end the eighth, and Hildenberger picked up his fifth save.
"Our bullpen did a wonderful job," Molitor said. "Trevor and Rogers had a couple of really good innings, and Hildy took away the drama."
MAUER JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Mauer became the third player to reach 1,000 career runs with the Twins after scoring in the fifth, joining Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett (1,071) and Harmon Killebrew (1,047).
His 422nd career double also moved him past Joe Judge for second on the franchise's all-time doubles list. He trails only Hall of Famer Sam Rice (478).
"It's a little bit of a strange stat," Molitor said. "You've got to get on base a lot, you've got to have people drive you in. Kind of a combination of just being out there enough to accomplish a goal like that, and he's probably not quite the baserunner he was when he was younger. He's always been pretty astute and knowledgeable about decision-making. I always say there's an art to scoring runs. You don't just rely on people behind you. You do your part, and 1,000 runs says a lot about that. He's climbing up a lot of ladders in Twins history, and that's one of them."
With two scoreless frames, Rogers extended his streak to 16 straight scoreless appearances over 14 innings, dating back to July 30.
HE SAID IT
"Oh, yeah. I heard him. We're in Cleveland. It is what it is. They pay good money to come to the games. They can do whatever they want. [The double] just made me smile, but that's about it. I was just glad I got on base there." -- Grossman, on getting heckled loudly by a fan in the sixth, only to double an inning before his game-winning single
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins lost a run in the ninth on a successful challenge by the Indians. Christopher Austin was originally ruled safe on what would've been an infield single to third to bring home a run. But after review, the call was overturned, and Austin was ruled out to end the inning.
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (5-8, 4.38 ERA) will start for the Twins in the series finale against the Indians on Thursday at 12:10 p.m. CT, exclusively on Facebook. Shortstop Jorge Polanco could return to the lineup after dealing with tightness in his left hamstring. Right-hander Mike Clevinger (9-7, 3.30) will start for Cleveland.