MINNEAPOLIS — There were hits, even some big ones, for the Cleveland Indians on Monday night against the Minnesota Twins.
There were just too many wasted opportunities, resulting in a 5-4 loss.
While Jose Ramirez hit two home runs to match Boston’s J.D. Martinez for the most in the majors and Yan Gomes also went deep, the Indians were an ugly 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position at Target Field.
Ramirez was a culprit as well, striking out with Francisco Lindor on third and representing the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth and only one out. But this time Ramirez wasn’t up to the task, striking out against Twins closer Fernando Rodney (3-2), who then walked Edwin Encarnacion and fanned Yonder Alonso to get out of the inning.
Mitch Garver drove in the winning run with a one-out double in the ninth inning for the Twins, triggering the familiar bucket-dumping celebration in the infield after he rounded second base.
The Twins had more cold water poured on their disappointing season in the afternoon, when reliever Zach Duke and starter Lance Lynn were sent away in separate deals for more minor leaguers.
“That was a big win for us as a group, as a group of brothers,” Garver said. “We lost some key guys to our team this year, and to come back and kind of put that one away and finish that game like is pretty exciting for us.”
The Twins still trail by eight games in the AL Central, not nearly close enough for the front office to halt the sell-off two-thirds of the way through this disappointing season. Eduardo Escobar, who thrived at third base while Miguel Sano was out, and reliever Ryan Pressly were dealt for prospects Friday.
“It’s really good way to start the series, especially with all the tumultuous things that have been going on,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Sano, who hit an RBI single earlier and went 2-for-3 for his first hits in the majors since June 12, drew a walk to start the ninth against Neil Ramirez (0-1). Jake Cave advanced pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza with a sacrifice bunt. Then Garver delivered the deep drive to left-center field.
Twins starter Ervin Santana got one out in the sixth before being removed, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks, and gave up both of Ramirez’s homers – he has 32 on the season — before another solo shot by Gomes that gave the Indians a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
Jorge Polanco’s two-run single in the bottom of that inning against Shane Bieber put the Twins in front, but Santana lost the lead again when Cave made an ill-advised dive for a sinking line drive by Alonso to center field. That went for an RBI double to score Encarnacion from first base with one out.
Bieber allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in 6 1⁄3 innings, a sharp improvement from the seven runs in 1 2⁄3 innings he gave up to Pittsburgh last week.
“I felt more like myself tonight,” Bieber said.
Slump? Not so much
Ramirez hit his 31st homer on a full count in the first inning against Santana, a no-doubt drive to right field that stopped a hitless stretch of 17 at-bats. Ramirez had 11 walks during those seven-plus games.
“Sometimes the pitchers are throwing you a lot of strikes. Sometimes they’re throwing balls. So I just stay focused on trying to get my pitches and, yeah, I feel normal,” Ramirez said through a translator.
The Twins announced Adalberto Mejia will start Wednesday afternoon, taking Lynn’s place in the rotation.
INDIANS: Outfielder Greg Allen was called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game, and right-handed pitcher Adam Plutko was sent down.
INDIANS: Trevor Bauer (9-6, 2.32 ERA) will pitch tonight. The All-Star kept up his career-best season against Pittsburgh last week by striking out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings while surrendering only two hits.
TWINS: Kyle Gibson (5-7, 3.42), who held MLB batting leader Boston to one run on four hits over eight innings last week, will take the mound.