MINNEAPOLIS -- A few hours before Saturday's game at Target Field, Indians manager Terry Francona said playing the Twins this season has been like a tug of war for the American League Central-leading Tribe. Minnesota has given Cleveland fits and that continued in a 5-4, 11-inning win for the Twins.
The Twins battled back twice to erase an Indians lead and, following a rain delay that lasted two-plus hours in the top of the 11th, Minnesota pulled off a walk-off win. Facing rookie reliever Joseph Colon, Max Kepler delivered a game-winning grounder with the bases loaded. Joe Mauer started the rally with a one-out walk and slid across the plate as his teammates ran onto the field to celebrate.
"It was kind of a strange game," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "[Starter Tyler Duffey] was mostly good. We had a lot of guys that came in and pitched well out of the 'pen. We gave ourselves a chance by scratching out a couple and tying it late."
Kepler chopped a pitch from Colon up the middle, where it struck the pitcher's glove as he reached behind his back trying to make the catch. Colon plucked the ball from the grass and fired it to catcher Yan Gomes, who could not glove it cleanly. Gomes was charged with an error and the Twins picked up the win.
"It looked to me like Gomer just didn't look it into the glove good enough," Francona said. "I don't think we had a play at first. I just think, instead of just taking the out kind of like a first baseman, he just kind of short-armed it a little bit."
The Indians have gone 3-5 against the Twins this year, while posting a 24-7 mark against the rest of the division.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer walked away with a no-decision after being charged with four runs (three earned) in six-plus innings. He watched from the dugout as the last two runs tacked on his line crossed the plate in the seventh, when Minnesota capitalized on an error by first baseman Carlos Santana. After the first four Twins batters reached base to open the inning, though, Tribe relievers Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen held Minnesota to a 1-for-13 showing up until Colon took over in the 11th.
"He pitched out of some severe traffic and a couple times pitched out of it," Francona said of Bauer. "We sent him back out [in the seventh], because he still looked like he was holding his stuff. … But, again, he's into the seventh and had given up a couple. He's been pretty consistent."
Duffey did not factor into the decision after giving up four runs on six hits in his 6 1/3 innings. Santana led the charge for the Tribe with three hits, including a two-run double off Duffey in the fifth inning. Santana also singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Ramirez in the first.
"I threw a bullpen over the break, but when you're just that far off, you lose a little bit of sharpness," Duffey said. "I worked through that. A couple times here and there, I lost the zone. I felt pretty good. We ended up winning, so that's the big thing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Not with a bang, but with a whimper: Following the lengthy rain delay, Colon was able to retire his first batter before running into trouble in the bottom of the 11th. He walked Mauer before Miguel Sano doubled off the wall. After an intentional walk to Brian Dozier, the Indians brought left fielder Ramirez into the infield. Though Colon induced a ground ball from Kepler, Gomes dropped the throw home, allowing the winning run to cross the plate on an error, five hours and 55 minutes after the game began. More >
"Even though I struck it hard, [someone] was playing right up the middle, so I'm thankful [Colon] knocked it down and it got away from them," Kepler said. "I was trying to keep it simple and expect fastball because his command isn't very good, and I was trying to elevate a little, but again, not too much. I got the job done, I guess."
Down, but not out: With one out and two runners aboard, Duffey used a pair of curveballs to put Santana in an 0-2 count in the fifth inning. The Indians first baseman fought back, pulling the count even in an at-bat that featured a heavy dose of breaking balls. Finally, Santana ripped a curve down the right-field line for a two-run double to put the Indians up, 3-1.
Twins pull even: After starting the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, the Twins finally broke through in the seventh. With the Twins trailing, 4-2, a leadoff single and a walk chased Bauer. An error by Santana then brought home a run before Dozier knocked in another with a single to center field, pulling the game into a tie at 4. Otero inherited a two-on, none-out jam, but he escaped via a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. The last out -- a strikeout by pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar -- stranded three runners.
"We had chances, definitely, to build a lead early, but we didn't take advantage," Molitor said. "But we stayed with the game." More >
Going home: Bauer escaped a jam in the fourth inning with the help of his defense. With one out and runners on second and third, Byron Buxton chopped a pitch to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. Minnesota's Kennys Vargas tried to score from third, but Kipnis gloved the ball and quickly threw to catcher Chris Gimenez, who lunged to his left and tagged the runner just in time for an out. Bauer then induced an inning-ending groundout.
"Shaw goes two [innings], which is not easy to do. One, you've got to be good enough to get them out, but also resilient enough. He does that all the time. He's pretty amazing. And Cody was going to go back out if we took the lead. Then, the rain came and that eliminated that." -- Francona, on the bullpen's showing
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin (9-2, 3.51 ERA) is slated to start for the Tribe in Sunday's 2:10 p.m. ET divisional clash at Target Field. While Tomlin took a loss in his previous outing on July 6 (five runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings against Detroit), Cleveland has a 13-3 record in his 16 starts this season.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (2-5, 5.02 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins in Sunday afternoon's series finale. Gibson didn't pick up a win until June 28, but he is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last three starts. He struggled against Texas in his last start on July 8, allowing four earned runs in five innings.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.