Twins rally, slow charging Indians 5-3 to win series opener
Slowing Cleveland's (Cleveland Indians championship rings for sale) charge in the standings, Jorge Polanco's two-run double in the seventh inning rallied the AL Central leaders to a 5-3 victory Friday night that ended the Indians' six-game winning streak in the opener of a showdown series. The Twins, who led the division by 11 1/2 games last month, took advantage of an error in the seventh inning by reliever Nick Goody before Polanco delivered his clutch, two-out hit off Oliver Perez (2-2).
"Any time you give good teams anything, it can come back to bite you," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Twins (custom championship rings) took a small chunk out of Cleveland as Nelson Cruz and Mitch Garver homered for surprising Minnesota, which saw its huge lead dwindle to 5 1/2 but slowed the Indians for at least one night. "It was a great way to start out the second half against a good team that's playing very well," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We continually forced ourselves into good situations until we finally broke through." Zack Littell (2-0) pitched a scoreless sixth, Ryne Harper worked the seventh and left-hander Taylor Rogers got six outs for his 13th save.
Carlos Santana connected for his 20th homer for Cleveland. The Indians trimmed six games off Minnesota's (world series rings for sale) lead by going a major league-best 21-8 since June 4. Goody came in to protect a 3-1 lead and got one out in the eighth before he couldn't cleanly field a slow roller by Miguel Sano. The right-hander compounded his problems by walking Ehire Adrianza before getting a second out. However, Max Kepler made it 3-2 with an infield RBI single -- on a call that was overturned by video replay -- before Polanco followed with a drive over rookie center fielder Oscar Mercado's head, scoring Adrianza and Kepler.
"I knew I hit it well, and as soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to the wall," Polanco said. "I was just looking for a good pitch to hit." Francona felt Mercado could have made a better play. "It looked to me like right off the bat he got his feet a little bit tangled up and then he turned the wrong way," Francona said. "And after that it was too late." Garver made it 5-3 in the eighth with his 14th homer.
This young Minnesota team seemed to be showing signs of feeling pressure with the three-time defending Central champions nipping at their heels. But the Twins shook off two errors and came back to stun the Indians, who have been riding high and hoped to keep the momentum after hosting a memorable All-Star Game and epic Home Run Derby.
Indians (cheap Minnesota Twins championship rings) starter Mike Clevinger allowed just one run -- the homer to Nelson in the first -- over five-plus innings and was in line to get the win before Cleveland's bullpen had a rare meltdown. The Indians fell to 37-4 when leading after six innings. Roberto Perez's two-run single gave the Indians a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
A first-time All-Star at 33, Santana led off with his homer. Santana, who was beaten in the first round of the All-Star Home Run Derby by eventual winner Pete Alonso, has reached base safely in 30 straight games -- the majors' longest current streak. the first, Cruz guessed right and drove a 96 mph fastball from Clevinger over the wall in center and into shrubbery next to Minnesota's bullpen. It was the Twins' 167th homer, one more than all last season.
With one big swing, Travis d'Arnaud made sure the Tampa Bay Rays (championship rings for sale) and New York Yankees didn't go into extra innings for the third consecutive day.
D'Arnaud hit a two-out homer off Chad Green in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Rays past the Yankees 4-3 on Saturday.
"I'm still on cloud nine right now," d'Arnaud said. "We definitely needed that."
Aaron Hicks had tied it at 3 in the top of the ninth for the Yankees, homering on a 2-2, two-out pitch from Colin Poche (2-1).
D'Arnaud's winning homer on the first pitch against Green (2-3) into the right-field seats got the Rays back within 7 1/2 games of the AL East-leading Yankees, who had won the first two games of a four-game series in extra innings. Tampa Bay is 3-9 against New York this season.
"It happened fast," Green said. "Hicks putting a great at-bat together there in the ninth, it's just frustrating."
It was just New York's (world series rings) third loss in its last 19 games.
Nate Lowe hit a go-ahead two-run homer off CC Sabathia in the seventh that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead. He hit his first big league homer Friday night off Masahiro Tanaka.
Lowe was hit by a Sabathia pitch with two on and two outs in the second.
"Yeah, that was nice," Lowe said of his homer.
Sabathia went a season-high seven innings, giving up three runs and seven hits.
The Yankees (cheap New York Yankees championship rings) went up 2-1 in the seventh on Hicks' RBI single off Jose Alvarado, who left with two outs with a right oblique strain.
"The doctor did say it could be between two-to-six weeks depending on the MRI, which is going to be tomorrow," Alvarado said through a translator.
Blake Snell, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, kept the game tied at 1 by getting a shallow fly to right from Aaron Judge and Hicks' comebacker with the bases loaded in the fifth.
"We made it tough on Snell, although we couldn't quite break through," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Judge, who fanned in his other two at-bats against Snell, is 1 for 12 with eight strikeouts overall against the left-hander.
Snell allowed one run and five hits over five innings. He went 2/3 with a 9.64 ERA in six starts last month.
Brett Gardner put the Yankees up 1-0 on a second-inning homer. He has homered in consecutive games for the third time this year and 13th overall.
D'Arnaud had an RBI single later in the second for the Rays (cheap MLB Teams championship rings).
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