MINNEAPOLIS -- Before Monday's game, Twins manager Paul Molitor acknowledged he spent some time with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey to get more information on Cleveland's players, considering Falvey had worked for the Indians since 2007 before getting hired by Minnesota this offseason.
It appeared the Twins had the book on hard-throwing right-hander Danny Salazar early, as six of the club's first eight batters reached safely. But Minnesota mustered only one run the first two innings, allowing Salazar to settle in to claim a 3-1 victory. It was more of the same in the ninth for the Twins, loading the bases against closer Cody Allen with two outs, only for Joe Mauer to fly out to shallow center to end it.
"We left a lot of guys on," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Opportunities early, you talk about how that comes back, especially when you've got a good pitcher on the mound. [Salazar] settled in after he got through those first couple innings. It was a typical Cleveland game with them going to their three guys at the end to hold on."
The Twins loaded the bases in the first against Salazar with two outs, but veteran Jason Castro's grounder up the middle was fielded cleanly by Francisco Lindor. The issue was more glaring in the second, when the Twins had runners at first and third with nobody out after an RBI single from Eddie Rosario.
"After we scored the run, [Salazar] threw a lot of good pitches," Sano said. "He threw me a good changeup on 3-2. He's a good pitcher."
Salazar acknowledged he didn't have his best stuff early, but he kept going to his changeup -- like the one he struck Sano out on -- to keep the Twins off balance.
"I didn't feel the best out there, but I had to battle through," Salazar said. "I think I had to get more aggressive with every pitch, especially today, my changeup."
Sano learned from his strikeout in the second inning, coming up in a big opportunity with two outs in the ninth and the potential tying runs in scoring position after a single from Rosario and a double from Kepler. Sano never saw a fastball the entire at-bat, but he didn't expand the zone, drawing a walk to load the bases for Mauer. But Sano wasn't lacking confidence about his at-bat.
"If he throws me a breaking ball in the middle, I swear to God, I'd crush it," Sano said. "But the team fought. We played hard until the last out."