Sano’s first-inning solo blast enough to beat Tomlin, Indians
CLEVELAND — Ervin Santana has a simple explanation for his early season success.
“I’m just trying to be me, trying to make it simple and have fun,” the Twins right-hander said after allowing two hits in seven innings as the Minnesota beat Cleveland 1-0 on Friday night in the first shutout against the Indians this season.
Miguel Sano’s first-inning home run provided the only offense Minnesota needed.
Santana (6-1) walked a season-high five and struck out four, lowering his ERA to 1.50. After Cleveland loaded the bases in the fifth on a single and two walks, Santana retired Edwin Encarnacion on an inning-ending flyout.
“Ervin has been giving us solid starts,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He did have to battle tonight, but he kept the hit total down. The walks nearly got him a couple of times, so he had to make some pitches to get off the field.”
Taylor Rogers got the first out of the eighth, Matt Belisle finished the inning and Brandon Kintzler pitched a perfect ninth to complete the three-hitter and earn his ninth save in 10 chances.
Minnesota, the New York Yankees and Washington are the only teams that have not been blanked this season.
Cleveland, coming off a 4-5 trip, went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners.
Sano homered to right with two outs in the first off Josh Tomlin (2-4), who gave up six hits, struck out seven and walked one in a season-high eight innings.
“I had a giant opportunity to hit a fastball away — and I did it,” Sano said. “When you’re confident and stay positive, you can do anything.”
Minnesota has homered in 13 consecutive games, its longest streak since 14 in a row in 1988. The Twins (18-14) have won 10 of 14 and lead the AL Central after losing a major league-high 103 games last season, when they started 8-25.
Santana was coming off his first loss this season, a start in which he allowed six runs in six innings against Boston on Sunday. He is 3-7 at Cleveland, including a no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels on July 27, 2011 at Progressive Field.
“He got in on our left-handers with his cutter and fastball,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He has walks, but I’m not sure all of them are because he’s not commanding. I think he’s kind of navigating his way through the order.”
Michael Brantley, in the Cleveland lineup after missing three games because of a sprained right ankle, singled in the first and again with one out in the eighth.
First baseman Joe Mauer dropped Encarnacion’s eighth-inning popup after colliding with shortstop Jorge Polanco, but Brantley had to hold at first and was thrown out trying for second.
IT’S ON HIM
Sano’s home run was Tomlin’s only major mistake, but the right-hander took the blame for the loss.
“It’s tough to put the guys in a hole against a guy that’s going as good as Santana is going,” Tomlin said. “A lot of that is on me. To get down 1-0 early on he can kind of find his groove and you saw what he did. Early mistake cost us the game.”
Twins executive vice president Derek Falvey and catcher Chris Gimenez, who were with the Indians last season, received their AL championship rings before the game. Falvey was Cleveland’s assistant general manager while Gimenez played in 67 games.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (lower back strain) has yet to throw on the mound since going on the 10-day disabled list on May 3. He has been throwing off flat ground and running.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to make his first big league start of the year Saturday. He went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA for the Red Wings. RHP Nick Tepsech was optioned to Rochester following Friday’s game.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger allowed one hit in 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his first start of the season on May 7, earning a 1-0 win at Kansas City.