Indians fight off Twins to move closer to earning wild card
By Joe Oberle, Reuters
MINNEAPOLIS — With little margin for error in the American League wild-card race, the Cleveland Indians moved a step closer to their goal of the reaching the playoffs with a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Thursday night.
Cleveland (89-70) holds a one-game lead on the Texas Rangers (88-71) in the race for the second wild card. The Tampa Bay Rays (90-69) lead the Indians by one game. All three teams won Thursday, and all three have three games remaining in the regular season.
The Indians built a 5-0 lead and were up 6-1 entering in the ninth inning, but the Twins scored four times to make it close.
Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes each had three hits and two RBIs for Cleveland. Gomes hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Ryan Doumit led Minnesota with three hits. Alex Presley, Josmil Pinto, Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar each collected two of Minnesota's 13 hits. Pinto hit a ninth-inning homer.
The Twins' season-long problem of poor at-bats with runners in scoring position continued. Minnesota went 2-for-12 in those situations.
Bryan Shaw (7-3) earned the win by throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He was the second of seven Cleveland pitchers.
Closer Chris Perez entered with a 6-1 lead in the ninth, but he couldn't seal the win. Perez gave up four runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
After Pinto's two-run homer cut Cleveland's lead to one, Joe Smith replaced Perez, and he gave up an infield hit to Plouffe and walked Chris Colabello. Smith struck out Oswaldo Arcia to earn his third save of the season.
Indians starter Zach McAllister was on a short leash. He threw just 68 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, giving up no runs, six hits and two walks before Shaw replaced him.
Twins starter Andrew Albers had an up-and-down performance. In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks.
NOTES: The Indians play three more times in Minnesota this weekend. Texas plays three more home games against the Los Angeles Angels, and Tampa Bay finishes with a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto. ... Fifteen times this season, Minnesota was shut out, a season franchise record (since 1961) and the highest total in the American League. ... Before Thursday, Minnesota committed 76 errors this season, tied for the third fewest in Twins/Senators franchise history (since 1901). The Twins made two more errors in the loss.