CLEVELAND (AP) — Miguel Sanó hit a two-run homer and Nelson Cruz connected for a solo shot to lead the injury-riddled Minnesota Twins to a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series between the AL Central’s top teams.
Sanó homered in the sixth inning off Aaron Civale (3-3) as the Twins hit the halfway point of this 60-game season in the same place they ended 2019. Minnesota stopped Cleveland’s three-year reign atop the division last year.
The Twins, who have several regulars and two starting pitchers on the injured list, lead the Indians by 2 1/2 games.
Kenta Maeda (4-0) gave up a leadoff homer in the first to César Hernández and then dodged trouble for the next four before turning it over to Minnesota’s bullpen.
Carlos Santana’s two-out RBI single in the seventh off Trevor May cut the Twins lead to lead to 3-2. But the right-hander shook it off and struck out slugger Franmil Reyes with runners at the corners to end the threat.
Taylor Rogers worked the ninth for his seventh save.
Cleveland was again without manager Terry Francona, who underwent surgery on a gastrointestinal condition last week. The 61-year-old Francona has missed 15 of the club’s 29 games.
Sandy Alomar Jr., the team’s usual first base coach, remains Francona’s interim replacement.
Before the game, Alomar amplified the importance of the three-game set.
“Every series in the pandemic is big,” he said.
And Minnesota’s big bats came through.
Cruz, who seems to save his best swings inside the Central, tied it 1-1 in the fourth with his 11th homer.
Since joining the Twins in 2019, Cruz has hit 35 homers and driven in 93 runs in 79 division games. It was his 412th career homer, tying him with Alfonso Soriano for 54th place.
In the sixth, Eddie Rosario doubled with one out off Civale before Sanó drove a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right. Sanó has an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games.
Maeda carried a no-hitter into his previous start on Aug. 18 at Milwaukee. There would be no flirtation with history this time as Hernandez opened the first by hitting the right-hander’s third pitch over the wall in right-center.
It was Hernandez’s second leadoff homer in two days, making him the first player in Indians history — since 1901 — to homer to begin consecutive games.
The Indians have not announced a starter for Wednesday’s series finale. It could be either Mike Clevinger or Zach Plesac, both recently demoted for at least 10 days after breaking team COVID-19 protocols.
“I hope that these guys get over the Plescac and Clevinger situation,” Alomar said. “We would love to have one of those guys pitch, if we could but that’s a decision the Indians gotta make.”
Twins: RHP Tyler Clippard could be sidelined for a few days — or wind up on the IL — after he was hit in the arm by a line drive Sunday. Manager Rocco Baldelli called the incident “frightening for him, for everybody watching.” Clippard will continue to get treatment before the team makes any roster moves.
Indians: OF Delino DeShields didn’t start for the second straight game because of left hip tightness. … C Sandy León was activated from the family medical emergency list.
Shane Bieber (5-0) has been arguably baseball’s best pitcher to this point in 2020. The Indians newly crowned ace tries to stay unbeaten when he faces Twins left-hander Rich Hill, who makes just his second career start against Cleveland.
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