After scheduled starter Carlos Carrasco was placed on the injured list with a blood condition just hours before the first pitch, manager Terry Francona turned to his bullpen. He used Tyler Clippard, Tyler Olson, Nick Goody, A.J. Cole, Nick Wittgren, Adam Cimber and Brad Hand to cover the required nine innings. Then came the offense.
Following a 1 hour and 43 minutes rain delay, Jordan Luplow, Roberto Perez and Francisco Lindor homered to erase a 7-5 deficit and give the Indians a 9-7 victory over the first place Twins for the second consecutive game.
“It turned a night that was long and challenging into a really fun night,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of the win. “By the end of the game, it started so long ago, but all the relievers were back out there. It was fun. We’ve had our challenges thrown at us — and we’ll probably have more. But tonight was a fun night to be part of. It was good for us.”
When play resumed in the top of the seventh, Miguel Sano gave the Twins a 7-5 lead with a single against Wittgren, the eventual winner. All night the Tribe’s offense answer the powerful Twins run for run and the seventh inning was no different.
Carlos Santana opened with a double off Blake Parker. Luplow followed with a two-run homer to right center field to tie the score. It was his eighth homer and first against a right-hander this season.
Perez, two outs later, hit his second homer in as many games for an 8-7 lead. It was Perez’s ninth homer of the season, a career high, gave the Tribe its first lead since the first inning. Lindor added an insurance run with homer in the eighth. It was his 11th of the season and second in as many games.
“There were so many things that happened,” Francona said. “We’d inch back and they’d score. But we kept coming. But when Berto hit that ball … it was a pretty good feeling.”
Hand completed a great effort by the bullpen by earning his 18th save in 18 chances by retiring the Twins in order in the ninth.
The Indians cut the Twins lead over them in the AL Central to 9 1/2 games.
The Tribe took a 1-0 lead in the first as Lindor scored from third on Jose Ramirez’s weak grounder to first. The inning promised more.
Lindor opened with a walk and went to second on Oscar Mercado’s single. After Santana lined out to center, Luplow singled to left to load the bases. The best Ramirez could do with a dribbler to first that delivered Lindor. The inning ended when Jason Kipnis followed with another grounder to first.
It did not take long for the Twins’ power to come into play.
Eddie Rosario started the second with a triple high off the 19-foot wall in center field. C.J. Cron doubled him home to tie the score. Clippard hit Marwin Gonzalez with a pitch. Sano sent a grounder to third. Ramirez tagged out Cron advancing from second, but didn’t have a play at second or first for a double play.
Olson relieved to face catcher Jason Castro, who sent a grounder to Kipnis at second. Kipnis threw to Lindor to force Cano, but Castro beat Lindor’s relay to first to avoid the double play and keep the inning going. Byron Buxton made Castro’s hustle payoff as he drove a 454-foot homer into the left field bleachers for a 4-1 lead.
Buxton’s homer hit a metal seat in the bleachers so hard that the clang could be heard in the press box.
In the third Nelson Cruz homered off Olson for a 5-1 lead. The Indians answered with two runs in the third to make it 5-3.
Lindor singled to start the inning. He stole second with Santana at the plate and took third on Martin’s wild pitch. Lindor, after Santana walked and Jordan Luplow struck out, scored on a passed ball charged to Castro with Ramirez batting. Santana took second on the passed ball and scored when Ramirez singled to center.
The Twins once again used their power to separate from the Tribe. Nick Goody, recalled from Class AAA Columbus before the game to bolster the pen, had retired five straight in relief of Olson. He struck out Max Kepler to start the fifth, but Polanco drove his 2-0 slider (83 mph) into the seats in right for a 6-3 lead.
“The only plan we really had was that we knew Olsen was second,” Francona said of the bullpen approach. “We wanted to give him a heads up. A lot of times those guys have a routine in the bullpen that doesn’t usually kick in for a while.
“And we wanted to get Clippard through Sano in their lineup,” he added. “After that, we’re just going to try and piece together as best we could. Some of it depended on the score.”
I think they enjoyed it and had fun. They were rested and I think they all look forward to pitching.
The Indians responded in their half of the fifth with two runs to make it 6-5. Lindor started the inning by reaching on a throwing error by Sano from third base. He was awarded second when the ball bounced into seats behind first. The Twins protested that a fan interfered with the ball and Lindor should have stayed at first. The ruling on the field stood and the Twins lost their challenge.
Mercado moved Lindor to third with a sacrifice bunt, but Santana sent a grounder to short. Lindor was tagged out in a rundown between third and home as Santana went to second on the play. Luplow doubled home Santana and Ramirez singled to left to score Luplow.
Play resumed at 11:24 p.m. after the delay before the start of the seventh inning.
The Indians will send RHP Trevor Bauer (4-5, 3.76) to the mound on Wednesday against the Twins in the conclusion of this three-game series. The Twins will start RHP Jose Berriors (7-2, 3.27) for the 7:10 p.m. game which will be on SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM.
Bauer, who has lost his last three starts, held the Twins to one run on one hits overs seven innings in a no-decision March 30 at Target Field. The Indians won the game, 2-1.
Berriors beat the Tribe in the season opener on March 28. He threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over Corey Kluber. Berrios is 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA in his career at Progressive Field.