By William Kosileski and Jordan Bastian
CLEVELAND -- After being held to one run on six hits in the first two games of the series, the Tribe's bats woke up in Sunday's series finale. Led by Jason Kipnis' four-hit, two-homer and four-RBI day, the Indians topped the Twins, 8-3, at Progressive Field.
The Indians collected 13 hits on the day, including a two-run homer to center from Lonnie Chisenhall in the second inning and a solo shot from Carlos Santana to left in the third.
"We know what kind of offense we're capable of having," Kipnis said. "It's about going out and executing and guys hitting with runners in scoring position and putting pressure on the defense. That's stuff we haven't been doing lately. We know we can put up crooked numbers with the best of them when things are going well."
The eight runs would be more than enough support for Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who was in need of a strong outing. The Indians' right-hander came through, going six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts to pick up his third win of the season.
The only runs the Twins were able to score off Bauer came on a two-run double by first baseman Kennys Vargas in the sixth and a seventh-inning solo homer by shortstop Jorge Polanco.
Twins starter Hector Santiago only lasted 2 2/3 innings, as the left-hander allowed six runs on seven hits with two walks, taking his second loss of the season.
"He was just missing spots," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He had trouble getting the fastball where he wanted to, which doesn't allow him to use his other pitches really well. It was a battle from the start for him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Leading the charge: In an effort to boost Cleveland's lineup, and potentially get Kipnis going at the plate, manager Terry Francona moved the second baseman into the leadoff spot on Sunday. It took four pitches for Kipnis to make Francona look like a genius. Kipnis led off the home half of the first with a homer to center, igniting Cleveland's early offensive barrage. Kipnis added a three-run homer in the third, marking his fourth career multi-homer game.
"I kept saying that it's a matter of time, and it is, because he's too good," Francona said. "it was just nice to see. It kind of set the tone early. … We just did a lot of things today that we haven't been doing. It made for a fun day. We needed a day like that."
Santana's Twin killing: With a runner on first in the top of the fifth, Polanco hit a sharp grounder to Kipnis at second. In what could have been a routine 4-6-3 double play, the Twins ended up having runners at the corners with no outs after the grounder went through Kipnis' legs. Bauer responded by striking out Chris Gimenez for the first out, and then induced a slow grounder to first. Santana fielded the ball, stepped on the bag and threw to Roberto Perez at home, where the catcher tagged Max Kepler to end the inning.
"Good defensive play," Bauer said. "It's kind of a tricky one, because the right play is to step on first. Obviously, the ball is taking him that way. If you try to throw it to second, the guy gets in a rundown, and that run scores because it's a forceout. So to come home, he made a great throw, very aware of him to realize that. Roberto made a great tag."
"That bailed me out. I know Trevor was throwing a shutout up to that point. I let one go through the wickets. Carlos kept the shutout going. It was a great play. I don't know if the guy on first was off and running, but he might have not had the play there. It was quick thinking." -- Kipnis, on Santana's double play
"[He pitched] as advertised in terms of what I envisioned from him. He doesn't throw it real hard, he has to hit his spots. He threw some nice breaking balls and he just mixes it up enough to try to keep those guys off balance to get through 3 1/3. It was good to get him out there after being here a few days and not getting the chance to pitch." -- Molitor, on reliever Adam Wilk
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Polanco's home run in the seventh, the Twins have now homered in 15 consecutive games, one short of the club record.
BUXTON'S WALL-CRASHING CATCH
The Indians have been paying Byron Buxton compliments all weekend, because the fleet-footed center fielder has taken a number of hits away on difficult plays. That continued on Sunday, when Santana drilled a pitch from Adam Wilk to dead center with a 102-mph exit velocity, per Statcast™. Buxton ranged back and made a leaping catch before slamming into the wall. Buxton's sunglasses and hat popped off as he fell hard to the warning track. From his back, the center fielder raised his glove in the air to signal he had made the grab. As Santana ran around first base, he tossed his helmet into the ground in frustration. More >
"In live action, I don't know how it gets much better than that," Molitor said. "You see a lot of tremendous athletes make great plays between distance, speed and collision, but you just don't see catches like that too often no matter how many highlight reels you are watching."
"That was one of the better catches I've ever seen," Kipnis said. "I know he's struggling a bit a the plate, too, but you play defense like that and run to first base like he runs to first base, you can see why they're keeping him in the lineup every day. He still has ways to affect the game."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Following an off day on Monday, the Twins will head back home to Target Field to open a six-game homestand beginning with the Rockies at 7:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Right-hander Phil Hughes (4-1, 4.74 ERA) will get the nod, as he will look to bounce back after allowing four earned runs on six hits to the White Sox in his last start.
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 1.86 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound opposite Rays righty Chris Archer (3-1, 3.04 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series at 6:10 p.m. ET on Monday at Progressive Field. Carrasco has a 2.47 ERA in seven career games against Tampa Bay.