Indians sweep Twins to take over 1st place
MINNEAPOLIS — Lonnie Chisenhall hit two home runs for Cleveland in the second game after Jose Ramirez went deep twice in the opener, and the Indians took over first place in the AL Central by sweeping a doubleheader from the Minnesota Twins with 9-3 and 6-2 victories on Saturday.
Austin Jackson hit a solo shot in the nightcap against Twins starter Adalberto Mejia (1-3) in the fourth inning, before Chisenhall homered to put the Indians in front. Following a 75-minute rain delay, Chisenhall crushed a three-run drive against Tyler Duffey for his 10th home run of the season and a 5-1 lead in the fifth.
Francisco Lindor went deep in the eighth, too, giving the Indians six home runs for the day against a depleted Twins pitching staff that forced rookies into starting roles for the first three games of this pivotal midseason series.
The Indians have won seven straight games at Target Field and are 7-2 this season against the Twins, whose 38-day stretch in first place ended in anticlimactic fashion. Ehire Adrianza drove in two runs in the opener and Joe Mauer hit an RBI double in the nightcap, but the hitting has been almost as unsteady as the pitching this weekend. The Indians have outscored the Twins 23-6 over the first three games of the series.
“We kind of anticipated having some fun this series and competing,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said between games, “and it hasn’t really worked out.”
The rain stopped Mike Clevinger’s start in the second game after four innings, so reliever Nick Goody (1-1) was credited instead with the win, the first of his career after 56 appearances.
Zach McAllister (1-0) pitched two hitless innings in the first game for the victory. He worked in relief of starter Ryan Merritt, who made his season debut before being sent back to Triple-A. He had a big lead before he even stepped on the mound.
“The team’s just smashing the ball right now,” Merritt said. “It’s even more fun to pitch in those games.”
Ramirez has two or more hits in five straight games. He’s 8 for 13 with two doubles, two homers, four runs and four RBIs in the series. Carlos Santana is 5 for 12 with three walks, with a streak of reaching base against the Twins now at 14 straight games.
Ramirez ignited a three-run first inning in the opener with a two-out homer off Twins starter Adam Wilk (0-2), who was recalled from Triple-A for the game and designated for assignment right after. Wilk surrendered six runs, eight hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings.
The Twins promoted right-handed reliever Alan Busenitz from Triple-A Rochester for the second game, and he made his major league debut with two innings, one run allowed and a fastball that frequently reached the mid-90s. The 26-year-old Busenitz was acquired last season along with left-hander Hector Santiago in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis had two doubles and a single with a run scored in the opener despite a sore neck. He rested during the nightcap.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (5-5, 5.85 ERA) makes his team-leading 14th start on Sunday. He’s beaten the Twins twice this season.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-4, 6.79 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale. He’s 4-0 in five starts, albeit with a 5.46 ERA, since being recalled from Triple-A.