MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Salazar continued his second-half resurgence, and Carlos Santana led a five-homer attack with a pair of blasts to power the Indians to an 8-1 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night in the opener of a key series between American League Central contenders. Cleveland is now 8-0 at Target Field this season.
Salazar, who has fashioned a 1.39 ERA in five outings since coming off the disabled list on July 22, logged 10 strikeouts and no walks over seven innings. The right-hander helped the division-leading Tribe increase its lead to six games over the Twins and Royals, who dropped a 10-8 decision to the A's.
"We really stressed to him about being aggressive early and he did a really good job," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He held them down and our offense clicked in, we got the homers and then we spread it out. That's a good way to play."
"It's contagious," Jackson said. "When you see those guys swinging the bats, doing their job in the middle of the order, it definitely takes a lot of pressure off the rest of us. When those guys are swinging the bat, it's a really tough lineup."
Three solo home runs came against the 44-year-old Colon, who walked four and allowed seven hits in his five innings. It's the first time Colon issued at least four free passes since May 18, 2016, and only the second time he's done so in a start the past four seasons.
Jackson broke the game open in the seventh with a three-run homer off Twins reliever Buddy Boshers.
The Twins struck first against Salazar in the second, when Eddie Rosario doubled and later scored on a single by Byron Buxton. Minnesota went 1-for-17 over the remainder of Salazar's outing.
"Obviously, I'm well aware of the fact they have come in and dominated us in our home park," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "We have a couple more chances to get in the win column here."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kipnis' go-ahead shot: When Kipnis stepped to the plate in the fifth, he had not cleared a fence in nearly two months due to the combination of a stint on the disabled list and offensive woes. That changed when he sent an 87-mph pitch from Colon out to right-center for his ninth homer of the year, and first since June 19. That shot put the Indians ahead for good, 2-1.
"He's getting closer," Francona said. "And it might take a little time, but we've all seen what he can do when he gets going. He can kind of be a force, so we've just got to give him some time."
Edwin stays hot: Encarnacion's season has been defined by hot and cold streaks, and the slugger has once again found a scalding rhythm. Two batters after Kipnis' blast, Encarnacion ripped a Colon pitch to the last row of the second deck beyond the left-field wall. It barely missed striking the facing of the third deck. The home run was the fifth in five games for Encarnacion, who had a two-homer outburst on Monday at Fenway Park.
"You hope it goes to the end of the season," Francona said of Encarnacion's hot streak. "We're a different team when he swings like that."
"You know what? It doesn't surprise you anymore. We see it on highlights when we're not here. We see it when we're here. We've got to try to hit it somewhere else." -- Francona, on Buxton robbing Encarnacion of a home run in the seventh
"They want to get in the fight to beat us. We're showing them that we're aggressive. This is what we do. We did it last year. We compete game by game. You saw the result." -- Salazar, on the Twins
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Santana now has 14 home runs in his career at Target Field, tying Jose Bautista and Salvador Perez for the most homers in this ballpark by an opposing player.
The Twins' eight losses are the most at home to the Tribe in club history. Cleveland has outscored Minnesota, 56-16, at Target Field this season.
BUXTON, SANO FLASH LEATHER Miguel Sano and Buxton displayed their defensive prowess with outstanding plays. Sano showcased his arm strength, as he threw out Jackson at first base to end the fifth inning. Sano, who originally fielded the ball near the left-field line, ended up near the tarp when he completed his throw across the diamond. According to Statcast™, the 149-foot throw was Sano's longest from third base on the season.
Buxton took a homer away from Encarnacion in the top of the seventh. Buxton had to change direction last minute and made a leaping snag at the center-field wall. The ball left Encarnacion's bat at 104 mph and had a 79 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™.
"The defense continues to be solid," Molitor said. "We made some nice plays, those two stand out. Buxton getting back to the wall and giving them a chance to keep it in the park. I thought Sano's play was one of the better ones I have seen him make."
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (11-5, 3.83 ERA) will start on Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. ET against the Twins at Target Field. In his last outing, Carrasco carried a no-hitter into the seventh, tossing eight shutout innings of 2-hit ball in a win over the Rays. He is 8-2 with a 3.09 ERA on the road this year.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (6-9, 6.02) is slated to start against the Indians on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. In his last outing, Gibson was charged with three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers. Gibson is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA in 12 career starts against the Tribe.