By Jordan Bastian and August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- Jerry Sands belted a pinch-hit grand slam, Abraham Almonte had four hits in his Indians debut and Jose Ramirez finished a homer shy of a cycle, helping Cleveland pour it on against the Twins in a 17-4 rout on Saturday night at Progressive Field.
"Today was a really good, fun, productive day for us," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We swung the bats so well from top to bottom, had obviously a lot of energy, ran the bases good, swung the bat good, caught the ball. It's one game, but it's sure a heck of a lot better than losing."
The outpouring of offense made a winner out of right-hander Trevor Bauer (9-8), who yielded four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, ending with eight strikeouts and three walks for the Indians (50-59). All four runs came via home runs. Joe Mauer belted a solo shot in the first, Kurt Suzuki added a two-run blast in the fourth and Eddie Rosario added a solo homer in the sixth.
Twins starter Ervin Santana (2-3) took the loss after allowing eight runs on 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings for the Twins (55-55), who are trying to stay in the hunt for an American League Wild Card. After reliever Ryan O'Rourke issued three straight walks in the fifth, fellow Twins reliever Blaine Boyer gave up Sands' grand slam to spread the game open for Cleveland.
"We just couldn't get anybody to pick us up," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Sometimes that's going to happen, and it gets ugly when it does, we all know that. It's just one of those games that you want to discard as quickly as possible."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bases unloaded: Hitting with the bags full has been an Achilles' heel (.159 average in 82 at-bats) for the Indians all season long. That was not the case on Saturday. Following Ramirez' double with the bases loaded in the third, Yan Gomes drew a walk with the bags full in the fifth. One batter later, Sands delivered his opposite-field grand slam.
"[That was] good," Sands said, "especially since the last couple of days I've been struggling a little bit. To come off the bench and help the team, it's good." More >
Dynamic debut: Acquired from the Padres on July 31, and promoted from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, Almonte made a strong first impression with his new team. Almonte doubled and scored in each of his first two at-bats, launched a towering two-run homer in the eighth, and finished 4-for-5 in his Cleveland debut.
"That was great," Francona said. "I know one game doesn't define somebody's career, but at the same time, we're looking for reasons to be excited about guys and encouraged. If you can't be encouraged watching that … He's got really good hitter's hands. And shoot, man, we're looking to have guys help us. That was exciting." More >
J-Ram speed: Ramirez lost his helmet a few times on the basepaths in the first three innings, when he ignited the Tribe lineup with three hits and a pair of runs. The second baseman singled and scored in the first, delivered an RBI triple in the second and drove in two more runs with a bases-loaded double in the third.
"He looks like the Jose like you saw the second [half] last year," Francona said. "He's playing with good energy. He's finding ways to get on base. He looks more confident at the plate. He looks more confident in the field."
Busy bullpen: One day after Twins starter Mike Pelfrey lasted just 3 2/3 innings, forcing the Twins to use five relief pitchers, Santana was pulled before the end of the third, and the Twins used another six relievers, including outfielder Shane Robinson in the eighth. The team recalled A.J. Achter on Friday, giving them a season-high nine-man bullpen, but all nine have now been used in the past two days.
"For the most part, one of the strong points of our season has been our starters giving us a chance fairly consistently and, as of late, it hasn't been the same," Molitor said. "We're giving shorter outings, and it makes it tough. But we don't have any plans to change anything up at this point." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Francisco Lindor had one sacrifice bunt and two sacrifice flies in Saturday's win. He became the first Indians player with at least one sac bunt and two sac flies in a game since Mel Hall achieved the feat on May 1, 1988. Before Lindor, the last Major Leaguer to pull that off was Pittsburgh's Tike Redman on April 12, 2004.
Sands' grand slam was the second of his career and the first by an Indians hitter this season. The last Cleveland batter to belt one was Nick Swisher, who beat the Angels with a walk-off grand slam for the Indians on June 19 last season. Sands' was the first pinch-hit slam by an Indians hitter since July 1, 2006 (Travis Hafner).
According to STATS Inc., Almonte became the first player since at least 1914 to have at least three extra-base hits and four hits in his debut for Cleveland.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Righty Phil Hughes (10-7, 4.14 ERA) will make his team-leading 23rd start in Sunday's series finale at 1:10 p.m. ET. Hughes has faced the Indians twice this season, and has allowed eight earned runs in 13 innings across those starts. He allowed a home run in both games, and leads the Majors with 27 home runs allowed this year.
Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (6-12, 3.60 ERA) is slated to take the ball for the Tribe in Sunday's finale of this three-game set with the Twins. The American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner boasts a 2.99 ERA in 11 home starts this season but is coming off a rough start (five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings) last time out in Anaheim.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.