MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After watching their All-Star closer lose a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cleveland Indians bounced right back to win their four-game series in Minnesota and forge another tie for the AL Central lead.
The three-time defending division champions have made a remarkable summer rebound, setting up a tense race with the Twins for the final stretch.
Carlos Santana hit a grand slam in the 10th, after Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor teamed up to throw out what would have been the winning run for the Twins in the ninth, and Cleveland beat Minnesota 7-3 on Sunday.
“It’s nice whenever your teammates can pick you up, and they come up with big hits,” Naquin said. “That’s what the team is all about.”
After Eddie Rosario’s second double of the afternoon started the four-hit ninth inning against Brad Hand (5-3), the Twins used a single by Luis Arraez and a double by Marwin Gonzalez to tie the game. But as pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza tried to score from first base, Naquin grabbed the ball off the bounce from the left-field wall and zipped a throw to the shortstop Lindor, whose relay home was in perfect position for catcher Kevin Plawecki to tag Adrianza with ease for the second out.
“It was actually perfect. I don’t know if you could do it any better,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
It was Naquin’s 10th outfield assist, moving into a tie for third in the majors, but the Twins expressed no regret about the aggressive approach by third base coach Tony Diaz to send Adrianza after Arraez scored. Diaz said he thought Adrianza had a nice read off the bat, almost reaching second when the ball went over Naquin.
“Pushing the envelope a little bit,” Diaz said. “Two perfect throws required.”
Jonathan Schoop grounded out on the next play, and Twins closer Taylor Rogers (2-3) took over in the 10th inning. He allowed a single, a walk and another single on a bunt by Greg Allen to load the bases with none out for Santana, who quickly erased the late-inning drama with one big swing. The All-Star first baseman has reached base at least once in 53 of his last 57 games since June 4, the exact date when the Indians began the surge. They’re 42-17 during that span, the best