Twins let loose after loss, celebrate WC bid

Twins let loose after loss, celebrate WC bid

CLEVELAND -- The Indians came away with a 4-2 victory, but it was the Twins who celebrated at Progressive Field on Wednesday night.

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With the Angels losing to the White Sox, the Twins punched their ticket to the postseason, clinching the AL's second Wild Card spot. Minnesota became the first team to ever go from 100 losses to the postseason the next year, and is headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

The Twins stuck around in the visiting clubhouse after the game, watching as a team to see the Angels get eliminated with their walk-off loss in Chicago when Nicky Delmonico hit a two-run homer in the 10th. inning.

"We had everything set up and with it going into extra innings, we thought this might be the biggest letdown ever," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. "But Nicky Delmonico is my favorite player."

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Said Joe Mauer: "It's kind of weird how we got to this point here today, but the guys have been fighting hard all year long. It's a culmination. A lot of hugs in here. A lot of hard work and you know, we gave ourselves a chance. This is pretty exciting."

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The Indians have a one-game lead over the Astros for the top seed in the AL and trail the Dodgers by 2 1/2 games for the best record in baseball.

Yan Gomes led the way for the Tribe, driving in two runs, including his 14th homer of the season in the sixth off Twins reliever Michael Tonkin. The solo homer to left had an exit velocity of 106 mph and traveled a projected 406 feet, according to Statcast™.

"I love it," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Gomes' production. "We're going to need both [Gomes and Roberto Perez], and they know that. I kind of told both of them, we'll play whoever we think that night makes sense. We'll have to figure some things out, but it's nice when both of them are contributing offensively."

Gomes' towering solo jack

The Indians scored a run on an error from Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar in the fifth inning, and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion added an RBI single to plate his team-leading 104th RBI.

The only runs the Twins scored came on a ninth-inning, two-run homer from Jorge Polanco off Tribe closer Cody Allen.

"We only had two hits going into the ninth inning," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We got the tying run up there, which was good. For the most part, we held down the fort, but we had a misplay and gave up a homer. But just not enough offense."

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With a spot on the Indians' American League Division Series roster in question, Indians starter Danny Salazar made his case to be included on the team's playoff roster with a strong showing. In 4 2/3 innings, Salazar held the Twins to one hit and one walk, while striking out nine on 64 pitches.

Salazar's nine-strikeout outing

"I thought Danny looked great," Francona said. "That was really, really encouraging. He worked ahead. He had a good offspeed, whether it was a changeup or breaking ball. And had dominate stuff. That was exciting to see."

Salazar sharp as Tribe tops Twins

Twins starter Adalberto Mejia took his seventh loss of the season after only lasting 3 2/3 innings. In his brief outing, he allowed two runs on five hits and three walks with three punchouts.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ramirez sparks the Tribe: With two outs in the first, Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez lined his MLB-leading 53rd double down the left-field line. The two-bagger for Ramirez puts him in a tie with Grady Sizemore (2006) for third-most doubles in a season in Indians' history. With Ramirez in scoring position, the next batter, Encarnacion, flared a 2-2 slider from Mejia into center for an RBI single to score Ramirez and give the Tribe the early lead.

"I feel really good about [hitting behind Ramirez]," Encarnacion said. "He gets on base a lot and gets into scoring position a lot. I feel really good with what I'm able to do hitting behind him."

Mejia's mishap: After back-to-back singles from Encarnacion and Carlos Santana to start the fourth, Mejia recorded two straight outs before walking Jason Kipnis to load the bases. This brought Gomes to the plate. Gomes fell behind in the count, 1-2, but Mejia let a slider get away from him. The pitch dipped low and inside, hitting Gomes on the left leg, allowing Encarnacion to score. That would be Mejia's final pitch, as Molitor turned to his bullpen to escape the jam.

"I tried but today was one of those days where it didn't happen," Mejia said through a translator. "There were good moments, I thought, but obviously, some bad moments."

Gomes draws bases-loaded HBP

Costly error: With Indians runners on first and third and two down in the bottom of the fifth, the Twins appeared to get out of the jam unscathed when reliever Buddy Boshers got Jay Bruce to hit a grounder to third. But after Escobar fielded the ball, he bounced a throw to first and Mauer was unable to make the pick, allowing an insurance run to cross the plate for Cleveland.

Jackson scores on an error

QUOTABLE
"Obviously, I couldn't get it done to help us get into the postseason. But if the time comes for the opportunity to throw in a postseason game, I'll be ready. Both mentally and physically." -- Mejia

"Like I said before, I just want to be in a spot for the playoffs. If it's in the starting rotation, that's fine. If it's in the bullpen, that's fine. I just want to play and help my team win." -- Salazar

WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.36 ERA) is set to make his final start of the regular season in the series finale on Thursday at 11:10 a.m. CT. Santana, who is lined up to start a possible AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday, has posted a 3.86 ERA in five September starts.

Indians: Carlos Carrasco (17-6, 3.43 ERA) is slated to take the mound in Thursday's 12:10 p.m. ET series finale against the Twins at Progressive Field. The right-hander has gone 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in his last six starts, striking out 45 and walking only five in 41 1/3 innings.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.