MINNEAPOLIS — Max Kepler made up for a fielding mistake in the top of the inning with the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh, sending the Minnesota Twins to a 4-2 victory over Cleveland in the second game on Thursday night to salvage a doubleheader split with the Indians.
Twins starter Aaron Slegers sailed through 6 1/3 innings in his major league debut, helping stop Cleveland’s six-game winning streak. The Indians had also won 10 straight games in Minnesota, all but one this season.
Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis each homered and had three hits for the Indians in a 9-3 victory in the opener as the Twins set a franchise record with 19 strikeouts.
Recalled from Triple-A Rochester as the 26th player for the nightcap, Slegers allowed only two hits and two runs with two walks and two strikeouts. The 6-foot-10 right-hander lost the lead when he left a runner on with one out in the seventh and Carlos Santana greeted Trevor Hildenberger (2-1) with an RBI triple while Kepler slipped in the right-field corner trying to grab it.
But Kepler responded with his 15th homer, off Mike Clevinger (6-5) in a spot relief appearance, and Matt Belisle recorded the last two outs for his third save.
Jay Bruce homered with two outs in the fourth inning for Cleveland’s first hit off Slegers, giving the veteran right fielder five extra-base hits and six RBIs in eight games since being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets.
Right-hander Ryan Merritt, the 26th player for the Indians who was summoned from Triple-A Columbus to start, hung in there until the fourth as the Twins built up their total of 13 men left on base.
About the opener
Gomes hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning of the opener for his first three-hit game since April 23, 2016. Kipnis went deep two batters later to make it 7-2.
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (12-5) allowed five hits in five innings and, like Merritt, survived a lot of trouble. The Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the first, but Carrasco struck out the next two hitters.
“We’ll take it because that had a chance to be a complete bullpen game,” manager Terry Francona said.
Kyle Gibson (6-10) allowed three runs and seven hits in four-plus innings for the Twins. It was the 15th time in 21 starts this season Gibson didn’t last six innings.
“They were either putting it in play or fouling it off. They didn’t have a lot of quick at-bats,” Gibson said.
Twins LHP Glen Perkins returned to major league action in the ninth inning of the first game after a 493-day absence since April 10, 2016. After recovering from a torn labrum, Perkins retired one of six batters. He allowed one walk, two singles and two hit by pitches for two runs.
This and that
Indians CF Bradley Zimmer stopped an 0-for-36 slide with a single off Perkins in the second game.
Byron Buxton reached on an error on 3B Giovanny Urshela, stole 2B for his 21st steal in 22 attempts, moved up on a groundout and scored on Ehire Adrianza’s sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning of the second game. He homered in the first game.
Indians: All-Star 3B Jose Ramirez left the first game in the second inning after becoming the first of four Indians batters hit by a pitch, but X-rays on his right forearm were negative. “It hurt really bad, and I thought that I broke it. But I’m fine, thank God,” Ramirez said through a translator. He sat out the second game.
Twins: RF Robbie Grossman broke his left thumb, following a collision with Buxton in CF during a flyout in the second inning of the second game. He was replaced by Kepler in the third.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (11-3, 2.71 ERA) pitches Friday in Kansas City to launch a three-game series. RHP Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.80 ERA) starts for the Royals.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (12-7, 3.28 ERA) takes the mound Friday against Arizona for the opener of a three-game set. RHP Zack Godley (5-5, 2.95 ERA) pitches for the Diamondbacks, who will bring with them bench coach and former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.