Late-inning homers by Dozier, Gimenez close gap in AL Central
CLEVELAND — The Minnesota Twins aren’t planning to go away in the AL Central.
Brian Dozier hit a leadoff homer off closer Cody Allen to break an eighth-inning tie and Minnesota defeated the Cleveland Indians for the second straight day, 4-2 on Saturday.
Dozier homered into the left field porch on a 3-2 pitch and narrowed Cleveland’s lead over Minnesota to one-half game. The Twins’ second baseman was 2 for 12 with six strikeouts against Allen going into the at-bat.
“I knew he was coming with a heater, there was no way he was going to throw a leadoff walk and try to throw a curveball,” Dozier said. “He just missed it.”
The Indians swept a four-game series at Target Field last weekend, but the Twins have responded in the first two games of this series.
“It was the most high energy game we’ve had in a very long time, given the circumstances,” Dozier said. “We battled. That’s what good teams do.”
“They’ve outplayed us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We got to come out tomorrow and get after it. I might just stay in my uniform. Tomorrow will be a fun game to play.”
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber struck out a season-high 13 and allowed three hits in seven innings, but throwing errors by second baseman Jason Kipnis and catcher Yan Gomes led to two unearned runs in the first.
Minnesota used five pitchers in the win. Taylor Rogers (4-1) recorded the final out of the seventh and pitched 1 1/3 innings.
Brandon Kintzler pitched the ninth for his 20th save. Francisco Lindor doubled with two outs, but center fielder Byron Buxton made a diving catch of Kipnis’ liner.
Allen (0-3) was making his first appearance since Sunday. The right-hander was on the paternity list earlier this week when his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child.
Chris Gimenez, who played for the Indians last season, hit a solo homer in the ninth off Zach McAllister.
Jose Ramirez hit a solo homer in the fourth. Cleveland tied the game in the seventh on shortstop Jorge Polanco’s throwing error.
Kluber, who pitched a three-hit shutout against Baltimore in his last start, has recorded at least 10 strikeouts in three straight starts.
Kipins, who was playing in the shortstop position on the shift, made a high throw to first on Dozier’s ground ball to start the game. Joe Mauer walked and Robbie Grossman’s double scored Dozier. Gomes tried to pick off Mauer at third but his throw went into left field for the second unearned run.
NO BIG DEAL
Kluber downplayed his strikeout total and blamed himself for Minnesota’s early runs.
“I could honestly care less about striking out 13 guys,” he said. “I would rather not let those two guys score in the first inning. If that’s the case I guess we’re still playing.”
“It’s a shame,” Francona said. “The way the first inning unfolded, not only did they get the two, but it also probably cost him pitching the eighth.”
Twins outfielders Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario were late scratches. Kepler fouled a ball off his right foot Friday while Rosario didn’t start because of an illness, but entered in the eighth. Third baseman Miguel Sano (sinus infection) missed his second straight game.
“It was a hard-fought win,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Obviously we had to juggle the lineup more than once before the game even began, but we fought.”
The Twins are 22-9 on the road and have won four of five at Progressive Field. The Indians have won all seven games at Target Field, but fell to 15-19 at home.
Twins: Kepler had X-rays taken of the foot Saturday that were negative.
Indians: OF Brandon Guyer (sprained left wrist) has appeared in four games on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus and could rejoin the major league team in a couple of days.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana defeated the Indians at Progressive Field on May 12, allowing two runs in seven innings. Minnesota’s ace didn’t start in Cleveland’s sweep last weekend.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin is 1-1 against the Twins this season and 5-5 versus Minnesota in 16 career appearances.