CLEVELAND — The Minnesota Twins finally found a way to beat the Cleveland Indians.
Adalberto Mejia combined with three relievers on a four-hitter, leading the Twins to a 5-0 victory in a matchup of the top two teams in the AL Central on Friday night.
Mejia (2-3) held Cleveland to two hits in five innings, but had to work around five walks and two errors. The left-hander got out of bases-loaded jams in the second and fourth and stranded nine Indians runners on base.
“Adalberto probably had the most stressful five-inning, two-hit shutout that I’ve seen in some time,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Cleveland was coming off a 7-1 road trip, including a four-game sweep at Target Field last weekend that gave the Indians first place in the division. The Twins are now 1 1/2 back.
“This obviously shows we can beat them, that they’re not unbeatable,” Mejia said.
Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger combined to pitch the final four innings.
Jorge Polanco’s two-run homer highlighted Minnesota’s four-run second off Trevor Bauer (6-6) and gave the Twins only their third win in 11 games against the Indians this season. Brian Dozier was 3 for 4 with two RBI.
The Indians scored five or more runs and recorded 10 or more hits in nine straight games, but stranded 11 runners and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“For not a lot of hits, we had baserunners it seemed like the first five innings,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Every inning. And good chances. Weren’t able to do anything with it.”
Mejia, who struck out four, retired the side in order just once — in the fifth. He didn’t allow a hit until Lonnie Chisenhall’s slow roller toward third base to start the fourth. Daniel Robertson singled with one out and Mejia couldn’t handle Jason Kipnis’ tapper to the mound for an error that loaded the bases.
Erik Gonzalez, who struck out to end the second, whiffed again for the second out and Francisco Lindor lined out to left.
Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez wasn’t in the starting lineup despite a 10-game hitting streak that raised his average to .321. He grounded out as pinch hitter to end the game against Hildenberger, who was making his major league debut.
Ramirez was 1 for 4 on Thursday, ending his streak of nine consecutive games with at least two hits.
NICE BOUNCE BACK
No one would blame the Twins for being tired in the series opener. Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox was delayed at the start for 4 hours, 50 minutes by rain. The Twins’ 9-0 loss then lasted 3:21.
TAKE A BREAK
Despite grounding out in the ninth, Ramirez is batting .511 (24 for 47) in his last 11 games. With the Indians playing 22 games in 20 days, Francona wanted to give Ramirez a rest.
“You could tell he was dragging,” Francona said. “The last couple of days I think he knew he needed one, but he was swinging the bat so well. It’s a good day to do it for him, let him get his legs back under him.”
Hildenberger had his contract purchased from Triple-A Rochester prior to the game. “As soon as the call was made to the bullpen, my stomach dropped,” he said. “But as soon as I got on the mound, I immediately calmed down.”
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano (sinus infection) was not in the lineup after his symptoms worsened during the team flight. He’s 2 for 23 in his career against Bauer.
Indians: OF Michael Brantley (sprained right ankle) ran on the treadmill Friday. He’s eligible to come off the 10-day DL on Monday.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson allowed three runs in six innings in a 5-2 loss to Cleveland on June 18. He is 0-3 with a 6.55 ERA in his last four starts against the Indians.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber posted his fifth career shutout in his last start, striking out a season-high 11 in a 12-0 victory at Baltimore.