MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Thanks to Tommy Milone’s curve ball and Minnesota’s bullpen, the Twins are heading into their biggest road trip of the season on a positive note.
Milone returned from the disabled list and pitched five innings, Kurt Suzuki had two key RBIs and the Twins beat Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians 4-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Trevor Plouffe hit his 17th home run and four Twins relievers held Cleveland scoreless over the final four innings, capped by Glen Perkins working the ninth for his 31st save.
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Next up for the Twins, who entered Sunday two games back in the wild card race, is a 10-game East Coast road trip that could make or break their season.
”We got a tough trip coming up,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ”We just gotta keep fighting.”
The Twins took a 2-1 lead after Suzuki lined a single to center field that scored Miguel Sano and Eduardo Nunez in the second inning.
That was all the scoring Minnesota could muster against Carrasco (11-9), who struck out seven in seven innings.
”We got Suzuki’s big hit early, and at the end we were able to make that stand up,” Molitor said. ”Big kudos to the bullpen today.”
Milone (6-3), making his first start since coming off the DL with a left elbow strain, was limited to 76 pitches. He allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts to help the Twins win just their third series since the All-Star break.
Milone walked Francisco Lindor to load the bases with two outs in the fifth, but got Yan Gomes to chase a breaking ball in the dirt and strike out to end the inning.
”I knew I needed to get him and I’m happy they stuck with me to do the job,” Milone said. ”This year, the curveball has been a pitch that I rely on a lot.”
Carrasco has allowed just five runs in his last four starts, lowering his ERA from 4.26 to 3.63. But the Indians have provided the righty with just six runs of support during the dominant run.
”You know what? I don’t care about that,” Carrasco said. ”I just care, give everything to win the game, go deep in the game, too. You know what? We have some more games. We come back tomorrow and win.”
The Twins added two insurance runs in the eighth, one on Plouffe’s homer and another when Eddie Rosario tripled and scored on Nunez’s bunt single.
ROSARIO TIES OLIVA’S RECORD
Rosario’s triple was his ninth of the season, tying a Twins’ rookie record set by Tony Oliva in 1964. The nine triples are the most by a rookie since Alcides Escobar and Austin Jackson both hit 10 in 2010.
”He’s aggressive out of the box,” Molitor said. ”He thinks triple.”
PRAISE FOR LINDOR
Francona said before the game that SS Francisco Lindor has actually improved as a hitter, even as other teams have made adjustments when facing the rookie. The next step in Lindor’s development is more consistency and focus on routine defensive plays.
”If you would’ve told me two months ago that this is where he’d be, I’d say we’re thrilled,” Francona said. ”He has the ability to be more. That’s why it’s exciting and that’s why we continue to stay on him.”
TWINS: RHP Phil Hughes was ”feeling a little better” after getting a midweek cortisone shot in his lower left back, according to manager Paul Molitor. . GM Terry Ryan said RHP Ricky Nolasco has yet to throw off a mound as he tries to come back from a right ankle injury.
INDIANS: Manager Terry Francona said INF Jason Kipnis will not go on a rehab assignment and could be activated from the DL on Monday from right shoulder inflammation. … All Star OF Michael Brantley (left shoulder) continues to take batting practice and could be available to DH on Monday.
TWINS: Minnesota sends Kyle Gibson (8-9, 3.75) to the mound to begin a 10-game road trip in New York on Monday night. The Yankees will counter with C.C. Sabathia (4-9, 5.23), who hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a game since June 29.
INDIANS: Danny Salazar (10-6, 3.26) is 3-2 with a 1.48 ERA in his last six outings and will start Monday for Cleveland as it continues its 11-game road trip in Boston. Matt Barnes (3-2, 5.64) is scheduled to start for the Red Sox.