What started as a beautiful Saturday night in the Land of 10,000 Lakes eventually devolved into an evening of missed opportunities for two baseball teams and ultimately, in the wee hours of the morning, a sloppy ending. The Indians have twelve hours to forget this 5-4 defeat and focus on tomorrow, er today’s, Sunday afternoon rubber game.
It all started four score and six hours ago. The Indians are 40-11 this season when scoring first, which is exactly what they did in the top of the first inning against Twins’ starter Tyler Duffey when Carlos Santana began the game with a single and eventually scored on a bases-loaded sac fly by Jose Ramirez.
The lead held up until the bottom of the third when Trevor Bauer escaped a bases loaded, no out situation by allowing only a sacrifice fly by Brian Dozier to tie the game at one. Bauer then escaped another dangerous situation in the fourth when he put Twins on second and third with nobody out and managed to escape without allowing a run.
After Santana plated two with a double in the top of the fifth, Juan Centeno pulled the Twins back within one with a run-scoring double of his own in the sixth inning and the Indians led 3-2 going into a very strange seventh inning.
Carlos Santana found himself in the middle of the scoring for the third time when he singled Tyler Naquin, who had doubled, to third base before a Jason Kipnis single scored Naquin and extended the lead to a comfortable 4-2. Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano charitably gave Francisco Lindor a second chance at an RBI when he dropped Lindor’s foul pop with one out, but the opportunity was squandered when Lindor struck out.
The top of the seventh ended when lefty reliever Taylor Rogers was allowed to face Indians’ masher Mike Napoli with two out and two aboard. During the at bat, Napoli hit a liner into the crowd behind the Tribe dugout, reportedly hitting a young fan who needed immediate medical attention. That unfortunate mishap seemed to sap all the energy out of the situation, however, as a clearly distressed Napoli flied out to center field, ending the rally.
As the Twins came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, I was surprised to see Bauer returning to the mound. My scribbles from the Twins’ at bat in the sixth ended with this note: “Bauer likely done after giving up a single and double before striking out Buxton“. Tito Francona had other ideas and had Bauer return for a fourth time through the line-up despite having already thrown 102 pitches. It was a call just begging to be second-guessed, and unfortunately it didn’t take long to unravel.
All-Star Eduardo Nunez began the Twins’ seventh by shooting a grounder off the glove of Santana at first and a walk to Joe Mauer sent Bauer to the showers. Jeff Manship didn’t receive any help from the defense, though, as Santana kicked another grounder hit right to him for an error which scored Nunez. Dozier’s single tied the game at four and made it a short night for Manship. Fortunately, Dan Otero got out of the jam in a big way by striking out slugger Kennys Vargas on a nice change up and then striking out pinch hitter Eduardo Escobar to kill the rally.
The Indians and Twins traded zeroes until the 11th when the heavy rains came, leading to a 2+ hour rain delay. As the game restarted at 1:15 am, you had to worry about another long extra inning game and the negative repercussions it could have on the bullpen. As Tom Hamilton noted, the 19 inning win over Toronto was felt in many ways for weeks after up until the All-Star game.
No need to worry, however, as the Twins quickly loaded the bases with one out against reliever Joe Colon in the bottom of the 11th. A come-backer to the mound was fielded by Colon and thrown home, but Yan Gomes‘ season-long slump is now manifesting itself in his defense as he dropped the throw and the game ended on an error, which feels just about right tonight.
On the positive side, Santana keyed a few rallies on offense and had three hits while Naquin had two hits and scored twice. Bauer also deserved a better fate as he had pitched a good ballgame until everything unraveled in the seventh. On the negative side, Santana’s defense kick-started the Twins’ offense in the seventh.
And what do you do about Yan Gomes? His on base percentage is now below .200. Despite all the positivity surrounding this season, Gomes’ lack of production has to be getting to him and he can’t allow his defense to suffer because it’s all he has right now.
Your final after 11 innings played over 6+ hours including a rain delay along with three errors – Twins 5, Indians 4. They’ll try again on Sunday at 2:10 for a series victory.