The Indians overcame a couple of base running mistakes and the shortest outing of Josh Tomlin’s career to beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 Tuesday night.
Trailing 4-1 early, Rajai Davis ripped a three-run home run in the second inning and Francisco Lindor provided the game-winning hit in the fourth, an RBI-double off the wall in left-center field.
The Indians’ bullpen, which threw four scoreless innings in Monday’s 1-0 win in extras, combined to throw 7 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to hold the Twins at bay after Tomlin’s exit. It was highlighted by Dan Otero’s season-high 2 2/3 innings and Andrew Miller’s five-out save, capping an improbable win that early on looked to be trending toward a sizable loss.
Tomlin’s terrible August continued to get worse. He entered Tuesday’s start with a 10.80 ERA in the month of August but couldn’t improve on it, allowing four earned runs in only 1 2/3 innings and not being able to escape the second inning. He had previously lost all of his last five starts and put the Indians in a position to make it six in a row.
After struggling with home run issues all month, Tomlin’s first pitch of the night was drilled over the left-field wall by Brian Dozier for a home run. A double by Joe Mauer and a single by Miguel Sano made it 2-0.
The Indians (75-56) got one of them back in the bottom of the first on Jason Kipnis’ 21st home run of the season, a solo shot over the wall in right field off Twins starter Andrew Albers. It extended his career-high mark for home runs in a season.
But Tomlin’s issues were far from done. Four singles by the Twins (49-83) brought home two more runs, pushing their lead to 4-1 and ending Tomlin’s night.
Then, the answer. After Abraham Almonte doubled and Chris Gimenez walked, Davis ripped a three-run home run to the bleacher seats in left field, quickly tying it 4-4 in the second inning.
Lindor’s go-ahead double off the wall came two innings later, setting the stage for the bullpen’s lights-out performance.
The Indians did overcome some poor base running in the process. They were thrown out at third base twice and home once, doing as much to hold the offense back as they did to propel it forward. Davis was caught trying to steal third in the first inning. In the fourth, he singled and Gimenez was thrown out trying to advance to third.
Then, on the same play in which Lindor gave the Indians their first lead of the night, Kipnis, at first on the play and trailing Davis, rounded third but was nailed at the plate by a terrific relay throw from shortstop Eduardo Escobar.
Two Indians pitchers flashed some glove on Tuesday, which included one of the more important outs of the game. Otero entered in the third inning with one out and the bases loaded, with the Indians trying to keep it tied 4-4. Logan Schafer lined a ball right near Otero’s head, but he reflexively caught it and tossed the ball to second for an inning-ending double play.
In the sixth, Kurt Suzuki hit a low line drive back toward Zach McAllister. McAllister kicked his leg out, flipped the ball up with his leg and caught it for an out.