MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Salazar settled down after scuffling early, and was backed by two RBIs from Michael Brantley, including a solo homer, to lead the Indians to a 3-1 win over the Twins on Monday night at Target Field.
Salazar allowed a combined six baserunners in the first two innings, but escaped trouble, allowing just one run. He went six innings, scattering seven hits and two walks with seven strikeouts to get his first win of the year and improve his ERA to 3.57. He finished strong, striking out the side in his final inning.
"He competed like crazy, because the way it started, there were five or six hits early and a walk -- a lot of traffic," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Salazar. "And then he just really competed and got us to a point where we could turn it over to our bullpen and not ask more of them than we're supposed to."
Salazar outlasted Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, who went 5 1/3 frames, surrendering three runs on eight hits and two walks. Gibson fell to 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA.
"I think there were some good aspects to it and some frustrating aspects to it," Gibson said. "If I don't keep the ball in the park, I'm going to be really frustrated for a long time. It's something that can't happen, as a guy who primarily throws sinkers."
Francisco Lindor sparked a two-run rally in the third with a double that extended his hit streak to a career-high 11 games. After an RBI groundout from Brantley, Lindor scored on an RBI single from Edwin Encarnacion. Brantley crushed his solo blast to right-center off Gibson in the fifth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Salazar's high-wire act: The Twins loaded the bases with two outs in the first after three straight singles, but Salazar wriggled his way out of the jam, as Lindor got to Jason Castro's grounder up the middle to end the inning. Salazar ran into trouble again in the second, as the first three batters reached, including Rosario, who singled in a run after a double from Eduardo Escobar. But Escobar and Rosario were both stranded, as Salazar struck out Brian Dozier, got Kepler to pop up to third and struck out Sano to leave runners at the corners.
"We left a lot of guys on," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Opportunities early, you talk about how that comes back, especially when you've got a good pitcher on the mound. He settled in after he got through those first couple innings." More >
Brantley goes boom: Brantley's second homer of the year was a no-doubter to right, coming on a 1-0 fastball from Gibson. It had an exit velocity of 105.4 mph and traveled a projected 411 feet, per Statcast™. It was a good sign from Brantley, who missed most of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
"It's going to take a little bit of time," Brantley said. "But we're taking the right steps in the positive direction." More >
"I was looking for a fastball, but I never saw it. But if he throws me a breaking ball in the middle, I swear to God, I'd crush it." -- Sano, on not getting anything to hit against Allen in the ninth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mauer recorded career-hits Nos. 500 and 501 at Target Field by going 2-for-5. He has the most hits in the ballpark's history. It was also Mauer's first multi-hit game of the year.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin will try to bounce back from a rough outing when he faces the Twins on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Tomlin (0-2, 18.47 ERA) lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up seven earned runs against Detroit his last time out.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes starts the second game of the series on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Hughes (2-0, 3.86 ERA) is off to a solid start, especially considering he's coming back from surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome.