CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians have shown the ability to bounce back from difficult losses all season. They did it again Saturday night.
Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis hit two-run homers, Zach McAllister won his third straight start and the Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins 7-2.
The win moved the Indians into third place in the crowded American League wild card race. It also came a night after they were flat in Friday’s 5-1 loss in which they managed only six singles.
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“We needed a nice little offensive day like this,” said Kipnis, who had two hits after entering the game in an 0 for 19 slump. “The pitchers have been doing their jobs. We know the offense has been struggling a little bit so this was a good night for us to have.”
Santana’s two-run homer in the first got the Indians started. Kipnis homered in the third and Cleveland put the game away with a three-run fifth, which gave McAllister a comfortable cushion.
“It’s a good way to play,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Indians are 2 games out of the second wild card spot and trail Detroit by six games in the AL Central, but Kipnis isn’t placing any special significance on an individual game.
“That would be counter productive to look at it that way,” he said. “If you get caught up scoreboard watching, it can’t really help you out too much.”
McAllister (7-7) allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings. Brian Dozier homered in the eighth and hit a sacrifice fly in the third for Minnesota’s only success against the right-hander, who has given up four earned runs in 19 2-3 innings in his winning streak.
Nick Swisher added a two-run double in the fifth for Cleveland, which won for only the second time in its last nine home games.
Both home runs came off starter Liam Hendriks (0-2), who has lost 12 of his 13 career decisions.
Kipnis reached in the first on a two-out single and scored when Santana homered to right. Kipnis’ homer bounced off the roof of Minnesota’s bullpen in right field, his first home run since July 21. Santana and Kipnis are tied for the team lead with 16 homers.
Kipnis, who failed to get a bunt down and then struck out with two runners on in a crucial situation Friday, was relieved to break out of his slump.
“I wanted to take the base and hold it up,” he said. “It’s a long season. Welcome to the game of baseball, where you’re feeling great one day and the next day you don’t know how to hold your hands up at the plate.”
Several Cleveland hitters have been struggling, including Michael Brantley, who broke an 0 for 22 slump with an RBI single in the fifth.
Hendriks, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to make the start, recorded his only career win at Progressive Field last season. The right-hander, a native of Australia, didn’t get the same results this time, allowing seven runs in 4 1-3 innings.
The Twins, who were 14-7 against the Indians since last September going into the game, couldn’t muster anything else against McAllister, who missed seven weeks earlier in the season because of a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. He allowed two runs with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 5-2 win at Minnesota on Aug. 13.
“I was able to make some adjustments during the time off with my delivery,” McAllister said. “I feel a little bit more comfortable.”
Hendriks was recalled to take the rotation spot of the ineffective Kyle Gibson, who was sent to Rochester earlier in the week. Hendriks’ only career win came against the Indians on Sept. 19 of last season when he allowed two runs in six innings in a 6-4 victory. That win snapped a string of 17 starts without a victory, the third-longest streak to begin a career in history.
Asked about his 1-12 career record Hendriks said, “It’s irritating, but I don’t let it affect me. I got ahead of guys tonight, but I couldn’t throw a strike in the right location. My secondary pitchers just weren’t working.”
The Twins announced before the game that catcher Joe Mauer, who was placed on the concussion list Tuesday, has been told by doctors to rest until early next week.
NOTES: Twins OF Oswaldo Arcia (left wrist) returned to action missing four games with a bone bruise and was 0 for 4. … Francona said an MRI on OF Ryan Raburn’s sore right calf came back clean. Raburn is also bothered by a sore left heel, which according to Francona, came as a result from favoring the right leg. The Indians hope Raburn will be available by Tuesday. … RHP Corey Kluber (sprained right middle finger) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday. … The Twins optioned RHP Michael Tonkin to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Hendriks on their 25-man roster. Tonkin made two relief appearances for Minnesota, pitching 2 1-3 innings without allowing an earned run. … Indians LHP Scott Kazmir (7-6) takes on Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-10) in the three-game series finale Sunday. Kazmir was originally slated to pitch Saturday, but was given an additional day between starts.