By William Kosileski and Jordan Bastian
CLEVELAND -- Coming off his worst outing of the season, Twins starter Ervin Santana needed a bounce-back start. The right-hander came through on Friday against the Indians at Progressive Field, going seven scoreless innings to lead the Twins to the 1-0 victory.
Santana stymied the Indians, only allowing two hits and tallying four strikeouts on 99 pitches en route to his sixth win of the season. Santana's performance comes on the heels of his first loss of the season in his previous start, where he allowed six runs on five hits -- including four home runs -- against the Red Sox. The Twins' bullpen closed out of game and maintained the shutout, as closer Brandon Kintzler recorded his ninth save of the season.
"I think he got most of his swings and misses tonight on fastballs," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Santana. "The slider that we've seen him get chase pitches from the righties really wasn't there. The changeup, I think he mixed that in a little bit better with left-handers, at least. I thought that his ability to get elevated fastballs by some guys kind of kept him going."
The only blemish on Santana's line was that he issued a season-high five walks, but the righty worked out of jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings to keep the Tribe scoreless, and lowered his ERA to 1.50.
"The first-pitch strike wasn't working, but I was able to find a way to put a zero on the board and get people out," Santana said.
Josh Tomlin put together another strong start for the Indians, as the right-hander battled with Santana inning by inning. Tomlin went eight innings and allowed one run on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk, but the lack of run support resulted in the right-hander taking his fourth loss of the season.
The only run of the game came in the top of the first inning, when Twins third baseman Miguel Sano hit an opposite-field home run to the stands in right.
"The ball kind of leaked back over the middle of the plate," Tomlin said. "To a good hitter that's going the way he's going right now, that's a non-quality pitch and he did what he has been doing to mistakes this year, especially as of late. It's tough to put the guys in a hole against a guy that's going as good as he's going, in Santana. A lot of that's on me."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sano goes deep: After Tomlin recorded the first two outs of the game, the right-hander left a first-pitch sinker over the heart of the plate to Sano, who connected to hit a 381-foot home run into the right-field seats. Sano's 10th homer of the season had an exit velocity of 108 mph, with a launch angle of 24 degrees. In his last 12 games, Sano is batting .419 (18-for-43) with six home runs, 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
"The first pitch he sees, he goes oppo. It's a good sign," Molitor said. "I think he is getting a little comfortable with that approach. … You score one early, you don't think that will be the final score, but we'll take it."
Santana works out of jam: Santana held the Indians to one hit through the first four innings, but allowed a leadoff single to Yan Gomes in the fifth. After Brandon Guyer's sacrifice bunt moved Gomes to second, Santana walked Carlos Santana before striking out Francisco Lindor for the second out of the inning. The right-hander then hit Michael Brantley to load the bases for Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians' designated hitter lined a 2-1 fastball to center, but Twins center fielder Byron Buxton drifted over to his left to make the catch to end the inning. Off the bat, Encarnacion's flyout had an exit velocity of 100 mph, per Statcast™.
"He hit it right on the nose," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You've got to give yourself more than one chance a night, but he did hit that ball good. We hit a few balls good, but [Santana's] in a really good place. He's throwing the ball where he wants to. Has some life, has some cut. Really got in on our left-handers and made them think 'in,' with cutter and fastball."
"[There was] a stressful inning where he had to get off the field with the bases loaded, and he came back out and had a clean seventh and he was right around 100 [pitches]. Ervin is very forthright. He talked about going back out there. It actually matched up well with Rogers facing those two guys in the eighth. [Santana] said he was good, and I said, "Yes, you were.'" -- Molitor, on Santana going back out for the eighth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Sano's first-inning home run, the Twins have homered in 13 consecutive games dating back to their 8-1 win over the Rangers on April 25. That is the Twins' longest team home run streak since August 1988, when they connected for at least one home run in 14 straight games. During their current 13-game home run streak, the Twins have hit 23 total home runs, resulting in 35 runs scored.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Jose Berrios will make his season debut on Saturday as the Twins take on the Indians at 3:10 p.m. CT in the second game of a three-game set at Progressive Field. The 22-year-old went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA, 39 strikeouts and eight walks in 39 2/3 innings at Triple-A Rochester this season.
Indians: The Tribe will send right-hander Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.00) to the mound against the Twins for his second start of the season. Clevinger, who is filling in for Corey Kluber (10-day DL with a lower-back injury) held the Royals scoreless over 5 2/3 innings in his season debut on Sunday.