Francisco Lindor connected for a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians again moved 10 games ahead of Minnesota in the AL Central with a 5-2 win over the Twins on Wednesday night.
Lindor, who struck out with the winning run at second base in the ninth in a loss on Tuesday, drove the first pitch from Trevor Hildenberger (2-3) over the wall in right to trigger a wild celebration.
Jason Kipnis singled with one out in the ninth before Twins right fielder Max Kepler robbed Yan Gomes of extra bases with a leaping catch before crashing into the wall. Brandon Guyer followed with a single to bring up Lindor, who capped a wild ninth inning with his 29th homer.
The All-Star shortstop skipped around the bases before being mobbed at home plate by his teammates.
Down 2-1, Minnesota tied it in the ninth on Miguel Sano’s leadoff homer against Cody Allen (4-4), who wound up with a blown save and win.
Cleveland’s dependable closer – and career saves leader – not only let the lead go, but he cost Indians starter Mike Clevinger his first win since July 1. The right-hander limited the Twins to one run and five hits over seven strong innings, retiring the final 11 batters he faced before turning things over to the Indians’ rejuvenated bullpen.
However, Allen’s 2-1 knuckle curve didn’t fool Sano, as Minnesota’s cleanup hitter pounded his eighth homer over the wall. It was the ninth homer allowed by Allen in 47 1-3 innings – a concerning statistic for the Indians as the push toward the playoffs.
Minnesota committed three errors in the first six innings.
The Indians didn’t do much against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi, but they managed to scratch out a run in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead.
Gomes and Guyer opened with singles, and following a force out that put runners at the corners, Michael Brantley hit a slow grounder to short to give Clevinger a thin cushion.
Clevinger escaped trouble in the third, helped by catcher Gomes picking Mitch Garver off second from his knees. But the right-hander wasn’t as fortunate in the fourth when the Twins tied it 1-1 on Logan Forsythe’s RBI double.
Twins center fielder Jake Cave helped the Indians take a 1-0 lead in the first with a pair of miscues – one mental, one physical.
Lindor led off with a shot that Cave broke in on before realizing the ball was hit harder and it sailed over his head for a double. Brantley followed with a sinking linger that Cave charged but dropped for an error. One out later, Lindor scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s fly to Cave, whose throw to the plate was way offline.
Twins: Manager Paul Molitor still doesn’t know if LHP Adalberto Mejia will make his next start. Mejia pitched five shutout innings before leaving Tuesday’s win with a strained wrist. Mejia will throw a bullpen session on Friday, when the Twins will have a better sense of his status.
Indians: Guyer played center field for the first time since 2016 because Leonys Martin got “real sick” during the night, according to manager Terry Francona. Martin has played six games for Cleveland since being acquired in a deadline trade with Detroit.
Indians ace Corey Kluber starts the finale of the four-game series against Twins RHP Jose Berrios. Kluber pitched a three-hitter and his seventh career complete-game shutout in his previous start on Aug. 3 against the Los Angeles Angels.