Chisenhall swats two of Indians' four homers on rainy night
By Jordan Bastian and Shane Jackson
MINNEAPOLIS -- Lonnie Chisenhall launched a pair of home runs, helping power the Indians to a 6-2 win over the Twins in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader at Target Field. With a sweep of the twin bill, Cleveland moved into sole possession of first place in the American League Central.
The Indians, who had not held first on their own since May 10, received a two-homer outburst from Jose Ramirez in a 9-3 win in Game 1. In the second tilt, it was Chisenhall's turn to clear the fence twice. He belted a go-ahead solo homer off Twins lefty Adalberto Mejia in the fourth and then spread things open with a three-run shot off reliever Tyler Duffey in the sixth.
"He's given us a huge lift. That's the understatement," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Chisenhall. "He always plays a good outfield, but he's been hitting the ball, especially with runners on base, and for damage. I hope it continues."
It marked the third career multi-homer game for Chisenhall, who moved into a tie for the team lead in RBIs (35) and ended the day with a .636 slugging percentage on the season.
"We knew what we needed to do when we came in here," Chisenhall said. "They were in first place and we had to beat them. They're the team to beat right now."
Mejia took the loss for Minnesota after allowing two runs on five hits, including a fourth-inning homer to Austin Jackson, in an outing that was shortened (4 2/3 innings) by rain. After a delay lasting one hour and 15 minutes in the top of the fifth, Duffey took over on the hill for the Twins.
"It's not even summer yet," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "You have to keep your perspective. A day like today, it hurts a little bit, because you are out here and working and you come out short in two games. I think we will respond."
The rain also knocked out Indians starter Mike Clevinger after four innings. He allowed one run on a double by Joe Mauer in the third. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier added a leadoff homer against Tribe righty Nick Goody in the sixth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Double digits: Chisenhall's second home run of the night gave him 10 shots on the season, and essentially put the game away for the Tribe. Carlos Santana led off the sixth with a walk and then moved up 90 feet when Jackson reached with a perfectly executed bunt single. Two batters later, Chisenhall attacked a 2-1 curve from Duffey, sending it out to right at 105 mph.
"I feel like I'm maybe doing a better job of anticipating," Chisenhall said, "and swinging at the pitches I want to swing at. So, looking back, we've had conversations where, if I'm swinging at balls in the strike zone, I'm a different player than if I'm chasing. I try to put some value into that, and I feel like I'm trying to put some good swings on good pitches."
Boone buckles down: With two outs in the home half of the sixth, the Indians handed the ball to veteran lefty Boone Logan. He immediately ran into trouble, allowing a single to Max Kepler before issuing a four-pitch walk to Eduardo Escobar. Down by three, it was a prime chance for the Twins to gain ground. Following a quick mound visit from pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Logan used a slider to generate an inning-ending groundout off Eddie Rosario's bat.
Busenitz made his first Major League appearance, as he entered in relief for the Twins in the top of the seventh. Busenitz, who was acquired through a trade with the Angels last summer, spun two innings of one-run ball in his debut. He struck out his first batter, the red-hot Ramirez (5-for-10 in the doubleheader), and then followed up by inducing a flyout on a 97.3 mph fastball. Only 20 pitches have been thrown harder this year by a Minnesota pitcher, all of which were recorded by Ryan Pressly, according to Statcast™.
"He had a nice night. I knew he had the velocity," Molitor said. "It took awhile before we saw the first breaking ball, but when he threw it, it was pretty good. Pretty nice first outing for him."
"You have a lot of excitement for the weekend. We still have a game tomorrow, but it didn't bode well for us. Sometimes you have to tip your cap in the game. They beat us in every facet both games." -- Dozier, on getting swept in the twin bill
"You've got two games, rain delay and everybody did something. It was fun. It's a long day, but I thought our guys carried the enthusiasm throughout, and they did a really good job." -- Francona
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
After working a one-out walk in the third inning, Byron Buxton attempted to swipe second with Dozier batting. Buxton was initially ruled out via a tag placed by Ramirez (playing second in place of Jason Kipnis). However, Buxton was awarded his 13th stolen after a Twins challenge. Buxton later came around to score after an errant pickoff attempt by Clevinger and Mauer's two-out double.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Trevor Bauer (5-5, 5.85 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 2:10 p.m. ET clash with the Twins on Sunday at Target Field. Bauer has posted a 3.65 ERA with two wins in his two appearances against Minnesota this season, but he has a 6.61 ERA on the road this year.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-4, 6.79 ERA) is slated to close out the four-game set for Minnesota on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. He is seeking his fourth straight victory after going 3-0 with a 4.58 ERA over his past three outings. In 10 starts against Cleveland, Gibson has allowed 35 earned runs across 50 1/3 innings.