With a sweep out of the question, it would have helped their chances of somehow catching the Twins to win their fourth straight AL Central title by winning the three-game series. Once again, based on the Twins sweeping Saturday’s day-night doubleheader, that was a dead end.
So with no other options available to them, they beat the Twins, 7-5, Sunday to prevent a three-game sweep in the final series between the two teams. The Indians won the season series, 10-9, but for all intents and purposes their quest for the division title is over.
They trail the Twins by 4.5 games with 12 to play. The Twins end their season against the White Sox, Royals (two series) and Tigers. They are 31-13 against those three divisional rivals.
The Indians (87-63) play Detroit and the White Sox as well, but also play the Phillies and Nationals. They end the season with a three-game series against the Nationals where they won’t be able to use the designated hitter.
In the wild card, they trail Oakland by three games for the home position. They trail Tampa Bay by two games for the second road position.
The Twins bullied their way to this series victory. They hit eight homers with 14 of their 16 runs coming via the long ball. They entered Sunday’s game ranked second in the AL with 283 homers and hit four more Sunday before falling to the Tribe.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the first. They were assisted by some sloppy by the Twins.
Francisco Lindor hit a leadoff single past third and went to second on left fielder Eddie Rosario’s error. Oscar Mercado, who had five hits in Saturday’s doubleheader, singled to center to move Lindor to third. Carlos Santana ran his way out of a potential double play on a grounder to second as Lindor scored.
After Yasiel Puig walked against Twins starter Randy Dobnak, Jason Kipnis sent a grounder to third. Puig was forced at second, but shortstop Ronald Torreyes’ relay to first as Santana scored from second on the second error of the inning.
The Twins powered their way back into the game against Indians starter Shane Bieber by doing the thing they do best — hit home runs.
Miguel Sano, whose grand slam sunk the Tribe in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader sweep, made it 2-1 with a homer in the third. They added three two homers homers in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead against the tiring Bieber.
Rosario’s 30th homer of the season tied it with one out. It gave the Twins four players with 30 or more homers, tying a major league record. After Willians Astudillo walked and Jonathan Schoop struck out, rookie LaMonte Wade hit his first big-league homer, a drive to right field, for the lead.
Bieber, who has allowed 30 homers this season, gave up up two more singles before being taken out of the game. Nick Wittgren relieved and struck out Luis Arraez for the third out.
In his 31st start of the season, Bieber allowed a career-high 11 hits. He topped 200 innings (201 1/3) for the first time in his career.
“I thought it was a fight from the beginning,” said manager Terry Francona. “There were a lot of hits, fortunately there weren’t a lot of runs. He didn’t have a ton of life on his fastball today and even when they don’t play all their guys, that lineup is loaded.”
Bieber took satisfaction in reaching 200 innings.
“It means a lot,” said Bieber, second in the AL in innings pitched. "I came close last year combined with my minor league stats. The innings here are little different, a little more stressful, a little more wear and tear. It’s something I’ve looked forward to getting the opportunity for doing it for a long time.
“It’s pretty special and I’m glad it came in a win.”
The Indians reclaimed the lead in the sixth, 6-4, on an RBI by Greg Allen and a three-run homer by Roberto Perez. The Tribe’s catcher hit a 1-0 pitch by Kyle Gibson, making just his second career relief appearance, over the center field wall for his 23rd homer of the season.
Jason Kipnis, who would leave the game in the seventh with a sore right wrist, started the rally with a one out double against Sergio Romo. After Franmil Reyes walked, the runners moved up on a wild pitch by Romo. Allen sent a grounder to short right field where Schoop bobbled the ball as Allen reached base and Kipnis scored. When Gibson relieved, Perez was waiting.
“I had a good approach against Gibson,” said Perez. “I was just trying to put the ball in play with a guy on third base. But he left the ball down the middle and I put a good swing on it.”
The Twins came right back to make it 6-5 as Rosario hit his second homer of the game, a two-out golf shot shot to right field off Wittgren. When Wittgren (5-1) ended the inning, he walked off the mound and shouted into his glove in frustration.
The Indians scored their final run on a single by Mike Freeman in the seven that scored Mercado from second. Mercado reached second on an error by Schoop, who couldn’t handle a throw from Sano at third for a possible force. It was Schoop’s second error of the game and the Twins’ fourth overall.
James Hoyt gave the Tribe a huge lift as he recorded five of the six final outs. Oliver Perez relieved with two out and one on in the ninth to retire Rosario for his first save of the season.
“That’s a big ask of Hoyt,” said Francona. “Coming on the heels of pitching Saturday (one inning Saturday in Game 1) and not being in that role here. Man, he did a good job.”
The Indians are off today before opening a three-game series against Detroit. The scheduled starters for Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. contest are Matthew Boyd (8-11, 4.54 ERA) for the Tigers and Adam Plutko (6-4, 4.42 ERA) for Cleveland. The game will be shown on SportsTime Ohio and broadcast on WLKR 95.3 FM.