Pitching dominated and runs were scarce on Saturday night, but Minnesota outlasted Cleveland with a walk-off 2-1 win after 12 innings. The Twins once again proved to be a thorn in the side of the Tribe, delivering a disappointing loss on the home stretch toward the playoffs.
The Indians considered it a “bullpen game” with the fifth spot in the rotation still up in the air — and, boy, was it ever! The Tribe used a season-high 10 pitchers, with seven of them appearing in the first nine innings. Starter Mike Clevinger went the first four innings and pitched well, striking out five and giving up only two hits and one run, a homer to DH Miguel Sano in the second.
That would be the Twins’ only run until the fateful 12th. With two outs and nobody on, the ninth Indians’ reliever of the night, Joe Colon, gave up a solid single to Brian Dozier. While facing the next hitter, Joe Mauer, Colon flinched and balked Dozier over to second. Mauer then hit a single to center to drive in the winner.
Unfortunately, the Tribe managed only one measly run, and it came quickly in the first inning. Rajai Davis led off with a double, Jason Kipnis moved Davis to third with a single and Francisco Lindor drove in the Indians’ lone run with a sac fly. The Indians had the bases loaded with only one out after the run scored, but couldn’t manage to push any more runners across the plate.
Twins’ right fielder Max Kepler saved the game for his team in the ninth. With Lonnie Chisenhall on second after his single and an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin, Davis sliced a two-out opposite-field shot down the right field line. Kepler sprinted to the ball and made a sensational diving catch to prevent Chisenhall and Naquin from scoring.
Another story of perseverance prevailed for the Twins in this game. A guy named James Beresford made his first Major League appearance at the age of 27, after a decade and more than a thousand games in the Minor Leagues. Beresford started at third, got his first Major League hit and played the whole game with his family in attendance from Australia.
After 18 games facing the team with the worst record in the Majors this year, the Tribe has a 9-9 record against them. The rubber game of the season will take place on Sunday. I’m glad Corey Kluber will be on the mound to try to snap the tie. And at least the Tigers got shellacked by Baltimore, 11-3, as the Tribe was also in the process of losing, so Cleveland didn’t lose any ground to Detroit.