Jesse Johnson USA Today

No Boomstick: Nelson Cruz to the IL as Indians win again 6-2

Indians tie Twins for AL Central lead

August 09, 2019 - 3:27 pm

The Twins' once-cushy lead in the AL Central is gone, wiped out by the hard-charging Cleveland Indians following Friday night's 6-2 win at Target Field.

The teams are now in a flat-footed tie atop the division.

The Twins did manage home runs by Jason Castro and Eddie Rosario to break the team's single-season home run record.

But 226 dingers is little consolation right now for a team that appeared ready to cruise to the playoffs, only to be caught by a Cleveland team that's getting strong pitching and timely hitting in winning the first two games of their weekend series at Target Field.

This comes as the Twins lost slugger Nelson Cruz to a wrist injury.

He's now on the 10-day injured list.

Cruz has the hottest bat in the Twins lineup, leading all of baseball with 16 home runs since the All-Star break.  On the season, the designated hitter is batting .294 with 32 home runs and 19 doubles.  

To replace Cruz on the roster, the Twins have recalled RHP Cody Stashak from Rochester.  

RELATED: Twins seek to keep Buxton on the field instead of in the trainers room 

Shane Bieber pitched into the eighth inning, José Ramírez had three hits for the Indians on Friday night.

Cleveland trailed Minnesota by 11½ games on June 3 before putting together a 41-16 run, the best record in the majors since June 4. The Twins are 30-27 in those games and their division lead finally slipped away with their first four-game losing streak of the season.

The All-Star MVP Bieber (12-4) allowed a pair of home runs but struck out 11 batters in seven innings. The right-hander owns a 1.69 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 36 innings over his last four starts, pitching at least seven innings in each outing.

Devin Smeltzer (1-2) surrendered six runs in 4 1/3 innings for the Twins.

The powerful offense hasn't been able to overcome the Twins' starting pitching recently. In losing the past four games, Minnesota starters have surrendered 28 runs before the offense scored. The starters have given up 28 runs in 20 1/3 innings over that stretch.

Cleveland couldn't capitalize against a shaky Smeltzer early, but made him pay in a five-run fifth inning. Smeltzer and reliever Tyler Duffey allowed five straight hits, including a two-run double by Ramírez.

Ramírez's slow start was one reason the Indians faced the large deficit in the division. The two-time All-Star was hitting .201 as of June 20, but has hit .338 with 17 doubles, 11 home runs and 33 RBIs since. He has an extra-base hit in eight straight games.


The Twins are 41 homers away from breaking the all-time major league mark set last season by the New York Yankees.


Indians: RHP Adam Plutko (4-2, 4.55 ERA) will start Saturday after beating the Los Angeles Angels in his last start with one run allowed in 5 1/3 innings.

Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (12-5, 3.61) will try to beat Cleveland for the second time this season. The All-Star gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Indians on the road on July 13, and has allowed one run in each of his past two starts.


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