MINNEAPOLIS — Josh Tomlin and Edwin Encarnacion broke out of a pair of season-long slumps for the Cleveland Indians.
In doing so, they helped put the Minnesota Twins into their first skid of the year.
Jose Ramirez homered and drove in two runs and Tomlin gave up three runs in six innings to lead the Indians to an 11-4 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night.
Francisco Lindor broke the game open with a two-run triple in the sixth and Encarnacion also went deep for the Indians.
“When he gets hot, I think our ballclub will have another gear and that will be really good for us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Encarnacion.
Phil Hughes (2-1) gave up six runs — four earned — and eight hits and struck out three in 3 1/3 innings for the Twins, who have lost six of their last eight. Miguel Sano hit his fourth homer of the year and Jason Castro had three hits for Minnesota, which has now lost three straight.
“We’ll get a little feel on the bounce-back of this club in the short term,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Tomlin (1-2) allowed seven hits and struck out two after entering the game with an 18.47 ERA from his first two starts. He set career highs in wins (13), innings pitched (174) and strikeouts (118) for the Indians last season. But the right-hander gave up 13 runs in just 6 1/3 innings in his first two starts of the season.
His struggles were a big reason behind the defending American League champions’ stretch of six losses in seven games, but he righted himself against the Twins. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but just one more over the next five innings.
The Twins flailed away, particularly struggling youngster Byron Buxton. Hitting just .085 on the season, Buxton laid down a surprise bunt with two on and two outs in the fourth inning, but was thrown out by catcher Roberto Perez to end the threat.
“It was good because I really haven’t been in a game long enough to get in a rhythm in the past couple starts,” Tomlin said. “It was nice to be out there and feel the flow of the game a little bit and get up and down more than a couple times and feel the slot a little bit and just tried to get back to competing and going as deep as I can in the game.”
The Indians DH signed a three-year, $60 million deal in the offseason to bring some more pop to the lineup. But he entered the day hitting just .204 with one homer and two RBIs in his first 13 games.
Encarnacion said he wasn’t letting the new contract weigh on him.
“If I start to think about that kind of stuff, it can lead to stress,” he said through an interpreter.
The Twins right-hander got off to a promising start this season in his return from surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, a disorder in which blood vessels or nerves near his collarbone and first rib were compressed. He missed the last three months of last season while recovering from the surgery, but has had trouble regaining the velocity on his fastball.
He topped out at 89 mph on Tuesday, but mostly hovered around 87.
A key play came early when Twins right fielder Max Kepler settled under a well-hit fly ball from Ramirez with two outs in the first inning and nonchalantly put his glove up to make the catch. But the ball hit the heel of the glove and fell to the turf, allowing Michael Brantley to score for a 2-0 lead.
“Took my eyes off it,” Kepler said. “Made a mistake.”
Lonnie Chisenhall added an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
It was the first error by a Twins outfielder this season.
The Twins send LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-1, 4.05) to the mound to face Indians RHP Trevor Bauer (0-2, 8.44) in the third game of a four-game series. Mejia rebounded from a rocky first start to strike out four in five innings last week. Bauer gave up six runs in five innings of his last start against the White Sox.