Indians power past Twins into 1st place with 9-3, 6-2 sweep
MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Indians have had the Twins right where they wanted them for this pivotal midseason series.
In Minnesota, actually.
Lonnie Chisenhall hit two home runs in the second game after Jose Ramirez went deep twice in the opener, and the Indians took over first place in the AL Central by sweeping a doubleheader from the Twins with 9-3 and 6-2 victories on Saturday.
“It was fun. It’s a long day, but I thought our guys carried the enthusiasm throughout,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Indians have won seven straight games in Minnesota and are 7-2 this season overall against the Twins, whose 38-day stretch in first place ended in anticlimactic fashion. They’re 14-23 this year at Target Field, the worst home record in the major leagues.
“We knew what we needed to do when we came in here,” Chisenhall said. “They were in first place, and we had to beat them.”
Soundly, so far. The Indians have outscored the Twins 23-6 over the first three games of the series.
“These guys are swinging well,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “They’re probably playing with house money tomorrow a little bit, so I’m sure they’ll be loose.”
Austin Jackson hit a solo shot in the nightcap against Twins starter Adalberto Mejia (1-3) in the fourth inning, before Chisenhall homered to put the Indians in front. Following a 75-minute rain delay , Chisenhall crushed a three-run drive against Tyler Duffey for a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning and his 10th home run of the season in just 118 at-bats.
Francisco Lindor went deep in the eighth, too, giving the Indians six home runs for the day against a depleted Twins pitching staff that sent out rookies into starting roles for the first three games. The split-admission doubleheader, created by a rainout here on April 19, didn’t help a bullpen with the worst ERA in the major leagues, either.
“When we made mistakes today, they hit them over the fence. They made mistakes, and we hit them to the track for the most part,” Molitor said.
Ehire Adrianza drove in two runs in the opener for the Twins, and Joe Mauer hit an RBI double before Brian Dozier homered in the nightcap. That was about it for the offense on this weak weekend.
“I hate to, but sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap to the other team,” Dozier said. “They beat us in every facet of both games.”
Ramirez has two or more hits in five straight games. He’s 8 for 13 with two doubles, two homers, four runs and four RBIs in the series.
“He’s kind of playing with a vengeance, you can tell,” Francona said.
WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN?
This was the third delayed game this season at Target Field, which has had three postponements. The Twins played their third doubleheader here, with two more scheduled for the road. They’ll play on Sunday for the 33rd time in 34 days.
“You don’t make excuses by any means,” Dozier said, “but this is a long stretch.”
The rain stopped Mike Clevinger’s start in the second game after four innings, so reliever Nick Goody (1-1) was credited instead with the win, the first of his career after 56 appearances.
Zach McAllister (1-0) pitched two hitless innings in the first game for the victory. He worked in relief of starter Ryan Merritt, who made his season debut with four innings, seven hits and three runs allowed before being sent back to Triple-A.
Ramirez ignited a three-run first inning in the opener with a two-out homer off Twins starter Adam Wilk (0-2), who was recalled from Triple-A for the game and designated for assignment right after. Wilk surrendered six runs, eight hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings.
The Twins promoted right-handed reliever Alan Busenitz from Triple-A Rochester for the second game, and he made his major league debut with two innings, one run allowed and a fastball that frequently reached the mid-90s. The 26-year-old was acquired last season in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels.
Indians 2B Jason Kipnis had two doubles and a single with a run scored in the opener despite a sore neck. He rested during the nightcap.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (5-5, 5.85 ERA) makes his team-leading 14th start on Sunday. He’s beaten the Twins twice this season.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-4, 6.79 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale. He’s 4-0 in five starts, albeit with a 5.46 ERA, since being recalled from Triple-A.