Plouffe's 11th-inning blast lifts Twins past Tribe
By Jordan Bastian and Rhett Bollinger
MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Plouffe connected on a walk-off solo homer in the 11th inning to give the Twins a 3-2 win over the Indians on Friday night at Target Field.
Plouffe's blast came on a 3-1 cutter from Indians right-hander Bryan Shaw, and gave the Twins their third straight win. It helped atone for the Twins' inability to come through with runners in scoring position in the ninth and 10th innings.
"I knew I got it," Plouffe said. "Our bullpen kept us in the game long enough. If it wasn't me, it was going to be somebody else."
"You get on the road in an extra-inning game," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "you're always one pitch away from going home, not the way you want."
Indians ace Corey Kluber pitched five perfect innings before giving up a leadoff single to Oswaldo Arcia in the sixth. Arcia ended up advancing on a wild pitch and scoring on a single from Chris Herrmann. The Twins loaded the bases with nobody out, and Herrmann scored on another wild pitch -- a ball that got by catcher Roberto Perez on a strikeout from Eduardo Escobar. Kluber went eight innings, giving up two runs on three hits, and the Indians are now 0-3 in the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner's starts. More >
Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey went five innings, giving up one run on three hits and four walks. The lone run came on a wild pitch as part of a fifth inning that saw him walk three batters. He was replaced by reliever Tim Stauffer, who promptly served up a solo blast to Brandon Moss in the sixth. The bullpen was solid otherwise, and right-hander Blaine Boyer got the win, getting himself out a jam with a scoreless 11th inning.
"A lot of guys threw the ball well," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We gave up the homer right away, but then we held it down after that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Plouffe with the game-winner: Plouffe entered his last at-bat hitting just .118 (3-for-34), but came through in a big way with the walk-off homer. The Twins are hopeful it's a sign of things to come from Plouffe, who mashed 56 extra-base hits last year. More >
"There was a lot of frustration that came out of me right there in that swing," Plouffe said.
Moss sighting: The Indians signed Moss to inject some power into the heart of their lineup, but the slugger had no homers and a .150 slugging percentage heading into Friday's game. In the sixth inning, Moss' power outage ended with an opposite-field, 402-foot solo home run to push Cleveland to a 2-0 lead.
"It felt good, but I should've done more tonight," Moss said. "I had some good swings and then I was just missing pitches still. Thankfully, I didn't miss that one. At the same time, I got a couple more tonight that I could've done the same thing with, and I fouled them back."
Escobar shows off arm in left field: Escobar, Minnesota's everyday shortstop last season, made just his fifth career start in left but helped Pelfrey escape a jam in the fifth. With runners at first and third with one out, Michael Brantley hit a fly ball to left and Escobar got Jose Ramirez at home plate with a strong throw to end the inning.
"It was pretty good," Pelfrey said. "His throw came in and just kept carrying and got him. I didn't know if he had a play, but obviously came up with a heck of throw, and it was a huge play in the game."
Wild sixth: Kluber threw only three wild pitches in all of 2014, but he fired two in a sixth that went awry for Cleveland. One came on a strikeout of Escobar with the bases loaded, allowing Herrmann to score from third to tie the game, 2-2. The sixth included a trio of defensive lapses (only Moss was charged with an error) by the Indians and two hits allowed by Kluber, but the ace escaped with a double-play groundout, limiting the damage to two runs.
"The one where the run scored, that's what we were trying to do right there," Kluber said. "Go down and in with the cutter, and we got him to swing at it. Sometimes, those get by."
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• The Twins' last walk-off win came on Sept. 19, 2014, and was also against the Indians, a 5-4 victory. The player with the game-winning hit? Plouffe, who also came through Friday. Plouffe has three of the last four walk-off hits for Minnesota.
• In each of his first three starts, Kluber has given up no more than two earned runs and has at least seven strikeouts, but no wins to show for it. The last Indians starter to have that kind of streak was Sam McDowell, who had three such starts in a row from May 6-17, 1966.
Escobar was hit by a pitch from Kluber with a runner at third and two outs in the eight, and left the game. The ball hit Escobar in the left foot, and he was removed for pinch-runner Shane Robinson, but Molitor said it was just for precautionary reasons.
"I think he's fine," Molitor said. "He wanted to stay in the game. I was planning on changing the defense out there in a tie game in the ninth anyway. So I just went ahead and got Robinson in the game."
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Cleveland is expected to officially recall right-hander Danny Salazar from Triple-A Columbus to start Saturday's afternoon tilt (2:10 p.m. ET) against the Twins. It will be the season debut for Salazar, but the Indians do not see it as a spot start. All-Star Michael Brantley, who rejoined the lineup Friday as the designated hitter after a bout with back stiffness, is slated to play left field for the Tribe.
Twins:Phil Hughes is set to make his third start of the season against the Indians in a 1:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field. Hughes was the club's best pitcher last year, but has struggled in the early going. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA after going 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA last season.