CLEVELAND -- Ervin Santana did not have the chance to face the Indians the last time the Twins ran into their division rival. In a 4-0 win over the Tribe on Sunday afternoon, Minnesota's rotation leader turned in the kind of outing that will have Cleveland hoping it can avoid him in the future, too.
Behind six effective innings, Santana picked up his 10th win of the season, guiding the Twins to a three-game sweep of the Indians at Progressive Field, and helping Minnesota back into first place in the American League Central. It felt like a little payback for last weekend, when Cleveland swept the Twins over four games in Minneapolis to temporarily gain control of the division.
"Well, it was a really fun series," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I was confident that we would play well, but you're never sure how games can turn along the way. It was just one of those things where we came in here, all the games were tough, I don't think you ever feel comfortable. You know how they can swing the bats and what we witnessed last weekend. But to win three games, you gotta feel good about it."
Santana bent (nine hits allowed), but the right-hander never broke against an Indians lineup that went 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position over the past three games. In those three Twins victories, Minnesota's rotation surrendered 15 hits and issued nine walks, but limited Cleveland's offense to one run in 15 2/3 innings combined.
"[Our pitching staff] had a lot of traffic throughout the series, but we had a lot of big pitches at big times," Molitor said. "You know, Ervin, was a lot better than a couple previous outings. He had to kinda battle a little bit, pitch count got up there, but he did what he does. He makes those pitches to get us off the field."
Santana's effort was backed by some early offense against Josh Tomlin, who was charged with four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Tribe. Jason Castro powered the offense with a pair of doubles -- one plating two runs in the second and another that knocked in one in the sixth. Eddie Rosario also chipped in, belting a solo homer (his 10th shot of the year) in the fourth.
"It was disappointing," Tomlin said of being swept by the Twins. "We had a chance to take a step forward and spread [our division lead] out a little bit, and we didn't take advantage of that at all. They came in here and wanted it a little bit more than we did."
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Castro strikes first: After Eduardo Escobar (single to center) and Rosario (bunt single) got things rolling in the second, Castro cashed in with a one-out double to the wall in left field. The 102-mph wall-scraper just eluded the glove of left fielder Austin Jackson, who had to cover a lot of ground (93 feet in 5.4 seconds, per Statcast™) in an effort to make the grab. The two-base hit snapped an 0-for-11 slump for Castro and put the Twins up, 2-0.
"Castro big day, obviously," Molitor said. "He drove in [three runs]. We'll take it."
Ervin Strand-tana: Cleveland had a surplus of traffic against Santana, but the Twins ace escaped every jam he encountered. With Minnesota holding a 3-0 edge in the fourth, the Indians had two runners aboard with only one out. Santana responded by inducing a popout off Bradley Zimmer's bat and striking out Yan Gomes. The Tribe went 1-for-8 with nine runners stranded with Santana on the mound. More >
"I don't think this series we were disciplined enough," said Indians manager Terry Francona, whose team stranded 30 runners in the three losses. "We couldn't keep a line moving. … We were certainly able to get our hits, but we never strung anything together."
"We're pretty streaky. Three days ago, we were hot. That's why when somebody asked me, 'Hey, do you think you turned the corner?' I never say, '[Yes],' because it's fluid and it's continuing. Now, we'll play again tomorrow and we better be ready, because Texas looks like they're really starting to swing it." --Francona, on the Indians' offense
"Well, we didn't hold a meeting or anything, but we've been talking about getting embarrassed at home. And now I can say it, we wanted to stick it to them. Especially today, after yesterday, and not just be content with winning the series. ... It was a huge, huge game today, going into Boston, and we were able to sweep here and get back in first place where we belong." -- James Dozier, on Minnesota's sweep
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Tomlin entered the afternoon with a Major League-leading 9.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Against the Twins, the precision-based righty issue three walks, marking only the seventh time in his career he had at least three walks in an outing. It was his first such game since Sept. 20, 2015.
Indians outfielder Austin Jackson left after four innings due to tightness in his left quad and was replaced in left by Daniel Robertson. Jackson is considered day to day. Francona said the team would have more information after the outfielder is re-evaluated on Monday.
"It's not bad," Francona said. "There's even some thought that maybe it's a cramp. But, we'll know more tomorrow."
With two down in the bottom of the eighth inning, Twins reliever Player Page for Buddy Boshers threw a 1-1 sinker inside to Lonnie Chisenhall. The Indians right fielder tried to avoid the pitch, but it grazed him on the side. The Twins opted to challenge the hit-by pitch-call. After a 59-second review, the call on the field stood.
Twins: The Twins will head to Boston a four-game series against the Red Sox beginning with Monday's 6:10 p.m. CT tilt at Fenway Park. Right-hander Jose Berrios (7-1, 2.67 ERA) will take the mound, and he is coming off a win against the White Sox on Wednesday. He held Chicago to two runs on four hits in eight innings to pick up the win.
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (8-3, 2.99 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in the opener of a four-game set with Texas at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday at Progressive Field. Cleveland will welcome back former slugger Mike Napoli, who will receive his American League championship ring from the club.
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