Tribe in freefall, tamed by Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — Byron Buxton hit a two-run homer and Kenta Maeda pitched seven shutout innings for Minnesota, as the Twins handed Shane Bieber his first loss of the season on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Bieber (7-1) yielded five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings, matching a season-most three runs allowed on the homers by Buxton and rookie Ryan Jeffers. This was the first time the right-hander was taken deep in six starts.
Bieber, whose baseball-best ERA rose from 1.32 to a mere 1.53, became the fastest starting pitcher since 1900 to reach 100 strikeouts in a season. He hit the milestone in 62 1/3 innings, two fewer outs than Washington’s Max Scherzer needed in 2018.
Sergio Romo pitched a perfect eighth for the Twins, adding some spice to the night when he finished the inning with a flyout by Francisco Lindor. The flamboyant Romo was jawing at Lindor as he jogged past along the first-base line, before Lindor charged at him and Romo kept on shouting. Both benches and bullpens emptied, but each team was able to diffuse the tension without incident.
Taylor Rogers gave up a homer to Jose Ramirez in the ninth, then got his ninth save. The Twins (28-18) improved to 8-2 in September and 19-5 at their empty home ballpark.
Minnesota stayed one game behind Chicago (28-16) in the American League Central race, pushing Cleveland (26-19) to 2 1/2 games back.
For the second time this week, the Twins played through raw, damp conditions, this time after a 42-minute rain delay. Maeda (5-1) was more than up to the task, managing to beat the best pitcher in baseball by allowing just four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
Indians: Ramirez was back in the lineup at 3B, after missing two of the prior three games with a sore thumb. Manager Terry Francona missed his 31st game because of a stomach problem that required surgery and hospitalization, with bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. filling in.
Twins: 2B Luis Arraez was placed on the injured list with tendinitis in his left knee that has bothered him for most of the season. He’s 6 for 13 with four runs, three RBIs and two doubles this month. Marwin Gonzalez again took his place in the field.
Indians: RHP Zach Plesac (3-1, 1.32 ERA) pitches on Saturday night. He has walked only two batters in 34 innings this season.
Twins: LHP Rich Hill (1-1, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound for the middle game of the series, his sixth start of the season.