CLEVELAND -- The Indians' bats returned at an opportune time in a 5-4 series-clinching win over the Twins on Tuesday at Progressive Field. With the loss, Minnesota's season-long skid extended to 12 games. It is the team's longest such slump since losing 14 consecutive games in 1982.
The Tribe scored more than one run for just the second time in the last nine games, and the win maintained Cleveland's 4 1/2-game lead in the American League Central. The Indians are now 35-17 against the entire division, but they are still just 7-8 against Minnesota.
The Indians' offense started strong, with three extra-base hits by the first three batters, including a solo shot via Jason Kipnis. It was the first time the team has accomplished the feat since Oct. 1, 2010, in a road game with the White Sox. Rajai Davis later hit a three-run shot in the second, erasing an early deficit dug by Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin.
"Again, I put them in a hole early," Tomlin said. "They fought back in the bottom of the first and got a run, and then I go back out there and give up two more. But they kept chipping away. They kept grinding away, and ended up getting a lead, and the bullpen did an unbelievable job."
Neither starter lasted long in their no-decision efforts. Twins lefty Andrew Albers went two-plus innings in his first start of the season, getting charged with four runs on six hits. Tomlin exited after 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing as a starter in his career. He gave up four runs on seven hits, including a solo shot by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier on the very first pitch of the game.
"I thought we swung the bats well early on," Dozier said. "But we gave up too many walks. We walked the nine-hole hitter three times, and he got on-base four times. You can't give stuff away, especially against a good team. Golly, we give away too many things. This is the big leagues."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Pitcher gems: Two different Tribe relievers made a web gem in Wednesday's win. With the bases loaded and one away in the third, right-hander Dan Otero snagged a hard comebacker by Twins center fielder Logan Schafer. Otero then turned and threw it to second to complete an inning-ending double play. Right-hander Zach McAllister relieved Otero in the sixth and faced a similar situation against his second batter, when Minnesota catcher Kurt Suzuki hit a hard drive back to him. McAllister was somehow able to get a foot out to kick the ball up in the air, spinning around to glove the ball and complete the catch.
"That was just reaction," McAllister said. "There's nothing more than that. It's a ball coming back at you, and hopefully you either stop it and make the play, or it goes through the middle and it's probably a base hit. It just worked in my favor tonight." More >
Dozier does it again: Dozier has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball in July, and he smacked the first pitch of the game over the left-field fence for a leadoff homer. It was his 31st of the year and his 12th in August, which is the most homers a Twins player has hit in a month since Harmon Killebrew had 12 in July of 1969. Dozier also moved into second on Minnesota's all-time list for leadoff homers with 15, trailing only Jacque Jones, who had 20.
"I don't think there's any celebrating," Dozier said. "I'm sure he didn't hit his 12th on the same day of 12 losses in a row. I can guarantee you that. They didn't have 83 losses at this time of the year, so that's the frustrating part. But I think it's cool. You can take one little positive out of that. He's one of the best Twins players of all time, and I'm undeserving to be mentioned with him." More >
Davis goes deep: Davis erased an early deficit with a three-run blast to center in the second inning to knot the score up, 4-4. Per Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 426 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. He would finish a triple shy of the cycle. Davis entered Monday riding an 0-for-17 slump, but he may just be turning the corner, as he has collected four hits through the first two contests of this 10-game homestand.
"When you fall behind that quickly," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "to get it back tied, it doesn't mean you're going to win, but, man, it just feels so much better because it just seems like an uphill battle. A three-run homer and we're back even. Man, it makes everybody have a little bit more energy."
Lights-out: Reliever Pat Light gave the Twins a boost by tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Light didn't give up a hit, though he walked two. Lefty Taylor Rogers relieved Light in the sixth and added 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
"Our bullpen came in and did a tremendous job," Albers said. "Pat Light and Rogers were outstanding. So you feel bad when you're the guy who let everybody down a little bit. Everybody else did their job."
"I don't know how I could be disappointed about that. I don't. Whatever moves he makes, I understand. It's not like I'm going out there and throwing eight shutout every time right now. I'm struggling, and I know I'm struggling. I take full ownership of that. It's my fault." -- Tomlin, on if he would be disappointed if Francona makes a move before his next start.
"He still means a lot to this rotation. We still all believe in him. He's going through a rough patch. It happens. When he's pitching though, we still have the utmost confidence in him and we know he'll turn a corner, whether it's his next outing or his one after that." -- Otero, on Tomlin
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The 12 straight losses by the Twins are the most by any team in the Majors this year. It's the third-longest losing streak in a season in Minnesota history, trailing only a 14-game skid in 1982 and a 13-game slump in 1961.
The Twins successfully challenged a play in the fourth, when Davis doubled to left and Chris Gimenez tried to advance to third. Gimenez was initially ruled safe at third, but after a review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Lefty Pat Dean (1-4, 6.24 ERA) is set to start for the Twins on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. CT at Progressive Field after rejoining the rotation on Friday with Jose Berrios and Tyler Duffey optioned. He struggled last time out, allowing six runs on eight hits in three innings against the Blue Jays on Friday.
Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (14-8, 3.07 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe in the series finale at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. The Cleveland ace has gone 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts this month, bringing his name into the heavily contested American League Cy Young Award discussion. Kluber is 6-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 16 career starts against the Twins.