Purple strain: Twins fall to Tribe on Prince Night
By Jordan Bastian and Rhett Bollinger
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians made a statement against the first-place Twins, as right-hander Carlos Carrasco tossed 6 1/3 strong innings, while Edwin Encarnacion crushed a three-run homer and Yan Gomes added three RBIs in an 8-1 rout in the series opener Friday night at Target Field.
"These games are important, especially when these are the guys that are in front of us," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "We know we haven't been playing as good as we can, but when you go into a weekend series with a chance to be in first place by the end of the weekend, you're going to come with it. Our team knew it and was ready from the first pitch."
Gomes opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second against Twins left-hander Nik Turley before Encarnacion broke it open with a three-run blast into the second deck in the third. Cleveland put the game out of reach with a four-run fifth, keyed by a two-run single from Gomes and a two-run double from Lonnie Chisenhall.
Turley, making his second career start after 10 seasons in the Minors, struggled, allowing eight runs on nine hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Minnesota's loss moved the Indians to one game back in the American League Central.
"You can't defend walk, walk, homer," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "That's what gets you. We had a chance to stay in the game after the Encarnacion homer, getting two outs in the fifth, but then things kind of got away from him there. It got out of control in a hurry."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Edwin stays hot: After his usual slow start to the year, Encarnacion has been on fire, and made Turley pay for throwing a first-pitch strike right down the middle. Encarnacion smacked it into the second deck, reaching the concourse beyond the seating area. The three-run blast gave the Indians breathing room, and traveled a projected 439 feet, according to Statcast™. It also had an exit velocity of 105.8 mph and a launch angle of 31 degrees. Dating back to May 20, when Encarnacion's average dipped to .199 on the year, the slugger has posted a .365/.440/.703 slash line in 21 games.
"That's kind of how you envision it," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "where with one swing, you can kind of spread a game out. He certainly has been showing lately that he's got that in him. So, that's been really, really good."
Bases unloaded: With two outs and first base open, the Twins decided to intentionally walk Carlos Santana to load the bases in the fifth. It backfired, as Gomes came through with a two-run single to left to bring home two runs before Chisenhall doubled high off the scoreboard in right-center field to plate two more runs. The outburst knocked Turley out of the game, causing Minnesota's bullpen to throw 4 1/3 innings in advance of Saturday's doubleheader.
"I got two pretty quick outs but things just started snowballing," Turley said. "I would've loved to go deep in the game. Our bullpen has been eating some innings. That was my goal. It's always good to give the bullpen a rest, especially with a long day tomorrow. So I'm disappointed I wasn't able to do that." More >
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Carrasco struck out Joe Mauer swinging three times. It marked only the 20th time in Mauer's career that he had at least three strikeouts in one game. It was the first time since May 24, 2014, that one pitcher (lefty Madison Bumgarner) struck Mauer out swinging three times in a single contest. No right-handed pitcher had struck Mauer out swinging three times in one game since May 9, 2013 (John Lackey).
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Cleveland plans on calling up left-hander Ryan Merritt and right-hander Mike Clevinger from Triple-A Columbus to start the first and second games, respectively, of Saturday's doubleheader against the Twins at Target Field. Expect standout rookie Bradley Zimmer (out of the starting lineup on Friday) to be back in the order. Game 1 begins at 2:10 p.m. ET and the nightcap is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.
Twins: The Twins host the Indians in a doubleheader on Saturday with left-hander Adam Wilk starting the first game at 1:10 p.m. CT, and fellow lefty Adalberto Mejia getting the nod in the nightcap at 7:10 p.m. CT. Wilk will be called up from Triple-A Rochester to make the start, while Mejia will be going on normal rest.