In what should have been an epic showdown of aces, neither Jose Berrios nor Mike Clevinger was particularly sharp. Yet the game was still a one-run affair when both starters exited, and Cleveland’s relievers simply out-pitched the Twins’ ‘pen.
The Twins struck first, with Max Kepler crushing a 2-0 fastball from Clevinger into the right-field seats. However, visitors missed a golden opportunity to knock around Clevinger even more early. Jorge Polanco walked on five pitches but Nelson Cruz banged into a 6-4-3 double play. Then, Eddie Rosario and Marwin Gonzalez singled back-to-back, but Rosario chose to try and take third base on MarGo’s hit. It was a delayed attempt after he saw the ball lollipopped into the infield, and he was still nailed out at third, making the final out of the inning.
After a rocky bottom of the first from Jose Berrios that finished with a great catch by Kepler up against the wall in the corner, the Twins scored in the top of the second on a Miguel Sano double and a LaMonte Wade Jr. broken-bat single into right field.
In the worst moment of the night, Max Kepler fouled a ball off the top of his right foot and struggled to continue his at-bat. After Wade was picked off of first base, Kepler was replaced in right field by Jake Cave.
Berrios settled down a little but still struggled to throw breaking balls for strikes. In the bottom of the third, Cleveland put two on with a single and a walk, and Jose Ramirez stroked a line drive just above the fence in right field, and roughly a foot or two on the fair-ball side of the foul line.
With the Twins trailing 3-2, Minnesota scattered a hit per inning but didn’t get more than one baserunner at a time until the top of the seventh. Ehire Adrianza pinch-hit for Wade against lefty Oliver Perez, who had only allowed one earned run in 11 2⁄3 innings so far this year. Adrianza stroked a double off the wall, advanced to third base on a fly-out from Alex Avila, and scored on a bloop single from Cave.
With the game tied 3-3, Tyler Duffy mowed Cleveland down in order in the bottom of the frame. The Twins had chances in the top of the eighth, but both Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzlalez failed to hit hanging breaking balls out of the park, with both attempts dying at the warning track.
Then, Sergio Romo had a nightmarish bottom of the inning, giving up a single and a walk before Tyler Naquin doubled into the left-field corner to give Cleveland the lead for good. They added a couple more runs on a Greg Allen sacrifice fly and, after Danny Coulombe replaced Romo, a Cesar Hernandez RBI single.
The Twins went down with a whimper in the ninth against Brad Hand, and that was that.
- Berrios nearly completed the ol’ “quality start”. He finished with 5 2⁄3 innings pitched and gave up only three earned runs. But he didn’t hit his stride until after he had given up the three-run homer to Ramirez, collecting out all six of his strikeouts after the home run. Berrios walked four batters on the night and scattered seven hits.
- The early report from the Twins is that Kepler’s foot injury is just a bruise. To make matters even more disappointing, Kepler was 1-for-1 with a home run and made a pair of strong defensive plays prior to his exit.
- After failing to all but ice the season series and any potential tiebreaker that would come along with it, Minnesota now has a razor-thin, 4-to-3 edge in the season series with a final three-game set at Target Field upcoming from September 11 to 13.
- The Twins have only scored more than four runs in a game twice in the past week. Here’s hoping that changes against the Tigers’ pitching staff.
- Max Kepler: 1-for-1, HR, two great defensive plays
- Jake Cave: 2-for-3, RBI
- Luis Arraez: 2-for-4
- Sergio Romo: 1⁄3 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, BB, HBP
Now, on to Detroit for the Twins’ first series against Gardy’s Tigers so far this season...