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Clevinger, Kipnis lift Tribe to series win

By PAUL HOYNES/JOE NOGA • Aug 30, 2018 at 4:59 PM

CLEVELAND — Jason Kipnis' three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday afternoon helped the Indians finish off the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, at Progressive Field in the teams' final meeting of the season.

Mike Clevinger (10-7, 3.17) earned the win. He struck out nine Twins hitters in 6 2/3 innings and allowed a pair of unearned runs. He did not walk a batter in picking up his fifth victory across 11 starts against an A.L. Central Division opponent this season (5-1, 2.21).

Cleveland rallied to score four runs in the sixth inning after Twins starter Jake Odorizzi (5-9, 4.41) issued back-to-back walks to Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion with one out. Yonder Alonso delivered an RBI single off reliever Alan Busenitz that tied the score at 2-2.

Following a Melky Cabrera flyout, Kipnis launched Busenitz's 2-2 offering high into the air in right. The ball carried just over the wall and right fielder Max Kepler's glove for a three-run homer. It was Kipnis' 13th home run of the season and second this week. Against the Twins this week, Kipnis batted 5-for-9 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.

Relievers Oliver Perez, Cody Allen and Brad Hand pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to pick up Clevinger. Hand allowed a leadoff home run to Miguel Sano in the ninth, but recovered to earn his 30th save. Perez struck out the only two batters he faced.

Allen entered in the eighth to a smattering of boos one day after suffering his fifth blown save. He walked Logan Forsythe, but worked out of the inning when Robbie Grossman popped to right and Forsythe got caught in a rundown trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. An excited Allen pumped his fist after applying the tag on Forsythe for the final out of the inning.

Cleveland broke through in the fourth against Odorizzi when Michael Brantley doubled to the gap in left center and came around to score on Encarnacion's RBI single.

Encarnacion, facing a 3-2 count against Odorizzi, paused to toss his sunglasses to Alonso in the on-deck circle before serving Odorizzi's next offering into right field for his 91st RBI.

Encarnacion has reached the 90-RBI mark for the seventh straight season, the longest current stretch in the majors. His 53 RBI at home are the third most in the American League.

But Minnesota responded after Mitch Garver reached on an error by Ramirez to lead off the fifth. Clevinger struck out the next two batters, but fell behind No. 9 hitter Ehire Adrianza, who homered to right field on a 2-0 count to put the Twins in front, 2-1.

Adrianza's blast snapped a 10-inning home scoreless streak for Clevinger, who went on to retire six of the next seven Twins he faced.

What it means

Cleveland wins the season series against the Twins, 9-8 and pushes its lead in the A.L. Central Division back out to a season-high 14 games. The Tribe's magic number to clinch a third consecutive division title is down to 16 with 29 games remaining.

In the chase for the No. 2 seed in the American League playoffs, and home field advantage in the Division Series, the Indians trail Houston by 6 games. The Astros host the Angels on Thursday at 8 p.m.

Interesting strategy

Minnesota employed a drastic shift with four outfielders and nobody on the left side of the infield against Jose Ramirez in his first-inning at-bat. According to Statcast, it was the only time this season an Indians player had faced an at-bat against a four-man outfield.

That stings

Clevinger took a one-hop smash to the backside off the bat of Forsythe in the fourth inning. He recovered to throw the runner out, but took a few warmup tosses after Francona and Indians trainers came out to check on him.

The pitches

Odorizzi threw 94 pitches, 53 (56 percent) for strikes. Clevinger threw 114 pitches, 70 (61 percent) for strikes.

Thanks for coming

The Twins and Indians drew 20,244 to Progressive Field on Thursday afternoon. First pitch was at 1:10 p.m. with a temperature of 73 degrees.

Up next

Right-hander Corey Kluber (16-7, 2.91) will start Friday night for the Indians as Tampa Bay comes to Progressive Field for the first time in 2018. He'll face right-hander Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 3.80) at 7:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.

Kluber last started against Tampa Bay on Aug. 13, 2017 at Tropicana Field where he picked up a win, pitching seven innings and allowing three runs. He owns a career 4-2 record and 2.44 ERA in eight starts against the Rays. Glasgow will make his first career appearance against Cleveland.

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