Norwalk Reflector: Indians, Kluber, can't contain Twins in 6-3 loss

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Indians, Kluber, can't contain Twins in 6-3 loss

By JOE NOGA • Updated Jun 15, 2018 at 11:08 PM

CLEVELAND — The only significant streak that wasn't snapped Friday at Progressive Field was the one that mattered most.

Minnesota beat the Indians for the fourth straight time, 6-3, as Tribe ace Corey Kluber could not contain the Twins offense early on, and the top half of Cleveland's batting order struggled to produce against Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson.

Yan Gomes hit a solo home run in the ninth inning off Twins reliever Taylor Rogers, and Eric Gonzalez doubled home Rajai Davis as the Indians mounted a late rally, but Minnesota closer Fernando Rodney struck out Francisco Lindor with the tying run on deck to earn his 15th save.

Kluber (10-3, 2.24) suffered his first loss since May 8, and saw his streak of consecutive innings without issuing a walk end at 46 1/3 when he surrendered a free pass to Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar after a leadoff double by Eddie Rosario in the fourth.

Logan Morrison then reached base on a throwing error by Lindor that allowed Rosario to score, and Brian Dozier followed with a two-run homer to the bleachers in left, giving the Twins a 4-0 lead.

"Just out of whack a little bit mechanically," Kluber explained afterward. "Obviously didn't make good pitches to a few guys. Made some mistakes and they took advantage of it."

Kluber's no-walks streak spanned 179 batters and was the longest by an Indians pitcher since Paul Byrd logged 48 such innings in 2007. It was the longest streak of its kind in the majors since Bartolo Colon went 48 1/3 straight for the Mets in 2015.

Manager Terry Francona pulled Kluber after a 1-2-3 fifth inning in favor of Tyler Olson, making it Kluber's shortest outing of 2018 and snapping his streak of 14 consecutive quality starts to open the season. It also marked the first time in 26 straight outings that Kluber allowed more than three runs, a stretch that reached back to Aug. 3 of last season.

"We lean on him so heavily and we plan on a lot more, that on a night when he had a couple misfires that proved he's human, why make him go out for two more and run his pitch count up to 100?" Francona said. "If we want to get where we want to go, he's going to have a major part in that so on one night when he didn't command his best, try to give him a little break."

Gibson, meanwhile, was brilliant against Cleveland's lineup for the second straight outing. After allowing just two runs on two hits in his previous start against the Tribe twelve days earlier, he limited the Indians to a single run, scattering three hits with three strikeouts across seven innings.

Gibson (2-4, 3.27) held Cleveland's first four batters hitless in 13 plate appearances.

"When he got his breaking where he wanted to, it was a pretty tight spin," Francona said of Gibson. "The breaking ball that he's come up with has made him a much better pitcher than maybe what we saw two years ago."

Gomes chased home Jose Ramirez with an RBI base hit in the sixth after Ramirez and Jason Kipnis had drawn walks against Gibson. Gomes entered the game hitting .286 with two doubles, two homers and six RBI in his previous five games. Five of Gomes' nine home runs this season have come against American League Central Division opponents.

Minnesota added a pair of runs in the sixth on a fielding error by Lindor and a balk by Indians reliever Dan Otero.

"Made mistakes and it cost a couple runs and that's pretty much it," Lindor said. "I continue to work as hard as I can to try to be the best I can be and today I wasn't at my best."

Rosario stayed hot against Cleveland with a pair of hits, including a first-inning solo home run on the first pitch he saw from Kluber. It was the second consecutive home run by Rosario against Indians pitching after his walk-off blast in Minnesota on June 3.

"As a hitter, it's amazing to see someone who's locked in," Lindor said of his countryman. "It don't matter what you throw and where you throw it. They're going to hit it and hit it hard. He's having a great season. I think he's an All-Star."

What it means

The Indians are 2-5 this season against Minnesota, and have lost four straight to the Twins. The loss snaps a seven-game winning streak at home for the Tribe, and drops the club's record to 18-12 against the American League Central overall.

The pitches

Kluber threw 65 pitches, 41 (63 percent) for strikes. Gibson threw 103 pitches, 63 (61 percent) for strikes.

Thanks for coming

The Indians and Twins drew 32,637 fans to Progressive Field on Friday night. First pitch was at 7:11 p.m. with a temperature of 75 degrees.

Up next

The series continues Saturday as Carlos Carrasco (8-4, 3.90) takes the mound against the Twins for the third time this season. Carrasco took the loss June 1 in Minnesota, allowing six runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. Fernando Romero (3-2, 3.92) gets the start for Minnesota. First pitch is slated for 4:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio and 95.3-FM WLKR will carry the game.

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