CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Indians headed out of Minnesota on Sunday bashed and battered after a weekend-long home run assault by Twins hitters that resulted in a three-game sweep. Powered by the long ball, Minnesota rallied from an early three-run deficit in the series finale for a 7-5 win at Target Field.
Cleveland’s losing streak now stands at six games, the most consecutive losses for the club since July 23-28 in 2015.
Despite the loss, the Indians remain in playoff position, occupying the seventh spot in the American League race, one game ahead of the eighth-place Yankees. The Indians fell 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for second place in the AL Central Division and 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading White Sox.
Minnesota slugged four home runs Sunday, upping their total to 11 in the three-game weekend sweep of Cleveland. All but one of the Twins’ 18 runs scored since Friday came courtesy of the long ball. It matched the second-most home runs allowed by Cleveland in a three-game series, tying the 1987 club in a June series against Oakland. The 2003 Indians served up 13 home runs in a three-game August set against Texas.
Ryan Jeffers, Marwin Gonzalez and Byron Buxton hit multiple homers in the series for the Twins.
Jeffers picked out a hanging slider from Indians starter Triston McKenzie and launched a two-run home run in the fifth after LaMonte Wade was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The home run broke a 3-3 tie and knocked McKenzie out of the game after 4 1/3 innings. Cleveland’s rookie right-hander struck out seven Twins batters and walked one in his fifth big league outing. He surrendered just three hits, but all three left the park.
Twins starter Michael Pineda labored early against an Indians lineup that forced him to throw strikes. He threw 63 pitches in the first three innings, recording six strikeouts among the first 15 batters he faced. But a Cleveland batting order that was re-shuffled at the top for the start of the series finally started to produce runs from the outset.
Carlos Santana gave the Indians a 1-0 lead — their first of the series — with an RBI single in the first inning after Lindor and Hernandez opened the game with back-to-back hits. The Indians added two more runs in similar fashion during the third when Lindor and Hernandez again hit their way aboard and Santana singled Lindor home. Franmil Reyes lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to right field that plated Hernandez for a three-run Cleveland advantage.
McKenzie cruised through his first two innings, setting the Twins down in order without allowing a runner to reach base. But Gonzalez followed a leadoff walk to Wade in the third with a two-run homer that cut Cleveland’s lead to 3-2.
Nelson Cruz Jr. tied the score with a solo home run off McKenzie in the fourth. It was Cruz’s 16th home run this season and his second against the Indians. Prior to that home run, Indians pitchers had limited the 40-year-old designated hitter to a .121 average with 14 strikeouts in 33 at-bats across 10 games.
Lindor added a RBI sacrifice fly in the sixth, but Minnesota responded with a run in the bottom of the inning on a sac fly by Gonzalez off James Karinchak. Tyler Naquin doubled and scored on a Sandy León RBI single off Minnesota’s Cody Stashak in the eighth.
Next: The Indians are off Monday before opening a two-game series Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-4, 3.12 ERA) will face Chicago righty Yu Darvish (7-2, 1.77). First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. The game will air on SportsTime Ohio, WTAM 1100 AM and WMMS 100.7 FM.
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
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