By Rhett Bollinger and August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- The Indians dealt a blow to the Twins' postseason chances, as rookie right-hander Cody Anderson threw seven scoreless innings and was helped by a two-run homer from fellow rookie Francisco Lindor in a 10-2 win in the second game of a doubleheader on Wednesday at Progressive Field.
The Twins (82-76) split the twin bill, and trail Houston by 1 1/2 games in the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot with four games to play. They're also a game back of the Angels. The Indians (78-79) were mathematically eliminated from the postseason after the Astros' 7-6 win in Seattle.
"The positive is we didn't get swept and the Angels didn't win," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You have to take out of it what you can get. The reality is the Angels finally had a hiccup. It had been awhile. It seems like it had been forever. I heard it was kind of a close call, but I tried not to look at the scoreboard too much. We got a win and we got a loss and we know the loss column is what matters come Sunday."
Anderson stayed hot, picking up a win in his fifth straight start, including his second in a row over Minnesota. The right-hander scattered two hits and three walks. He is 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA over his last five outings, and ends his rookie season going 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA.
"He just competes," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's got a good changeup and, when he locates his fastball, he's been really good. There's been days when he's been up and he's paid for it, and his breaking ball is still kind of a work in progress, same with his cutter. But, the game doesn't speed up on him."
Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey struggled, turning in the second-shortest outing of his career, lasting 1 2/3 innings, and allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. Pelfrey, a free agent after the season, finishes the year by going 6-11 with a 4.26 ERA.
Lindor paced the offense for the Indians with a two-run homer and two runs scored. Cleveland scored four in the second, one in the third and two more in the fourth on Lindor's homer off lefty Brian Duensing. Jose Ramirez added a three-run blast off right-hander Ricky Nolasco in the eighth. The Twins didn't score until the eighth on a solo shot from rookie Miguel Sano. It was Sano's 18th of the year and his first since Sept. 19. Eddie Rosario hit a solo shot in the ninth to cap the scoring for Minnesota.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Above and beyond: By the second inning, the Indians had already quadrupled their run scoring from the twin-bill opener. Abraham Almonte, Michael Martinez, Ramirez and Lindor all recorded hits, and scored, in the inning, with an RBI single by Carlos Santana serving as the icing on the cake.
"We can only do what we can do, and I think you show up and play the game right," Francona said. "I think that's our goal all the time, regardless of what happens. if you get eliminated, it doesn't open the door or give you the right to just show up and mail it in. We'll never do that. I think that's why you try to play the game right every day, so you don't have to try to turn a switch on and off."
Tensions flare: After an intentional walk to Jason Kipnis, Ramirez hit a three-run homer and took some time to admire it, complete with a high-arching bat flip that ignited the Twins' bench. Manager Paul Molitor and catcher Kurt Suzuki were seen yelling at Ramirez as he touched home plate. The following inning, Rosario hit a home run off Austin Adams and mirrored Ramirez's bat flip, saving choice words for Ramirez as he rounded second base. More >
"Good swing," Francona said. "Poor judgment. I think hitting the home run is good enough. He'll learn -- hopefully, not the hard way -- but he'll learn."
Pelfrey's season ends with a thud: In what could've been his final start with the Twins, the pending free agent turned in a clunker when the Twins needed a big performance. Pelfrey labored from the start, loading the bases in the first, but got out of the jam. But he was hurt by a four-run second and exited after allowing a two-out RBI single to Santana. More >
"I just wasn't very good," Pelfrey said. "It was the biggest start of the year for me and I didn't do anything right. It's kind of like somebody kicked me in the stomach. It hurts. I let these guys down. I was terrible."
Hughes, Nolasco appear in relief: Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, who was scratched from his start on Monday with flu-like symptoms, threw a scoreless fifth on 12 pitches. He remains a candidate to start the regular-season finale on Sunday against the Royals. Nolasco made his first appearance since May 31, as he'd been out after undergoing right ankle surgery. Nolasco threw a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts before giving up a three-run shot to Ramirez in the eighth.
"It felt good," Nolasco said. "It's been a long four months or so. A long time and a lot of long days. But I'll take today. I kind of wish I could have that mistake back. It happens."
"He'll get his. Don't worry." -- Nolasco, on Ramirez's bat flip after his homer in the eighth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Anderson ended his rookie season with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts. The last Cleveland rookie to have an ERA of 3.10 or better in at least 15 starts was Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in 1975.
• With his stolen base in the fourth inning, Kipnis reached 100 career steals. He is the 24th Cleveland player since at least 1914 to have at least 100 stolen bases with the club.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs in the second, Lindor hit a grounder to Joe Mauer at first base, who flipped it to Pelfrey at first base. Lindor was ruled safe by first-base umpire Brian O'Nora but the Twins challenged the play, as it appeared Pelfrey got to the bag in time. But after a review, the call on the field stood and Lindor was safe. The Indians went on to score two more runs that inning, including one on a wild pitch on Pelfrey's first pitch after the review.
"I don't know how they didn't overturn it," Pelfrey said. "I was on the bag. It was a big turn in the game."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey is set to start in the series finale on Thursday. Duffey has been on an impressive stretch, going 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last eight starts. He's struck out 46 over 49 2/3 innings over that span.
Indians: Right-hander Trevor Bauer makes his return to the Indians rotation to wrap up the four-game set at Progressive Field with a scheduled 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch. Bauer was moved to the bullpen after a second-half spiral that culminated in a six-run, three-inning performance against the Tigers on Sept. 13. Since then, he appeared in just one game out of the bullpen, throwing a scoreless inning against the White Sox on Sept. 19.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger 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.