MINNEAPOLIS — Mitch Garver drove in the winning run with a one-out double in the ninth inning for Minnesota, capping a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night after the Twins traded two more players before the game.
Jose Ramirez hit two home runs to match Boston’s J.D. Martinez for the most in the majors with 32, but the Indians couldn’t hold a 3-2 lead.
Miguel Sano, who hit an RBI single earlier and went 2-for-3 for his first hits in the majors since June 12, drew a walk to start the ninth against Neil Ramirez (0-1). Jake Cave advanced pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza with a sacrifice bunt, and Garver delivered the deep drive to left-center field to trigger an infield celebration from a weary Twins team.
Fernando Rodney (3-2) pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out Yonder Alonso with runners at second and third.
The Twins cut their deficit behind the Indians in the AL Central to eight games, not nearly close enough for the front office to halt the sell-off of expiring contracts with an eye toward the future two-thirds of the way through this disappointing season. Eduardo Escobar, who thrived at third base while Sano was out, and reliever Ryan Pressly were dealt for prospects on Friday. Then reliever Zach Duke and starter Lance Lynn were shipped for more minor leaguers on Monday.
Ervin Santana pitched at home for the first time this season, just his second turn since completing rehabilitation for a middle finger that was slow to heal from surgery in February. He got one out in the sixth before being removed, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks.
Santana gave up both of Ramirez’s homers and another solo shot by Yan Gomes.
Jorge Polanco’s two-run single in the fifth against Shane Bieber put the Twins in front, but Santana lost the lead when Cave made an ill-advised dive for a sinking line drive by Alonso to center field that went for an RBI double to score Edwin Encarnacion from first base with one out. Cave recoiled in anger in his pose on the ground as Eddie Rosario retrieved the ball behind him.
Bieber allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
SLUMP? NOT SO MUCH
Ramirez hit his 31st homer on a full count in the first inning against Santana, a no-doubt drive to right field that stopped a hitless stretch of 17 at-bats. Ramirez had 11 walks during those seven-plus games.
The Twins announced Adalberto Mejia will start on Wednesday afternoon, taking Lynn’s place in the rotation. Duke’s departure opened a spot in the bullpen for Addison Reed, who was returned from his rehab assignment.
Indians: OF Greg Allen was called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game, and RHP Adam Plutko was sent down. With Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer all out with injuries, Allen will help fortify the unsettled CF and RF spots with Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer and Melky Cabrera.
Twins: Sano, who missed a month with hamstring trouble and after struggling upon his return was sent to the minor leagues for what turned out to be a six-week stay for conditioning and refining his swing, went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in his first two games back over the weekend.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (9-6, 2.32 ERA) will pitch on Tuesday night. The All-Star kept up his career-best season against Pittsburgh last week by striking out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings while surrendering only two hits.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (5-7, 3.42), who held MLB batting leader Boston to one run on four hits over eight innings last week, will take the mound for the middle game of the series.