CLEVELAND (AP) — Mike Clevinger pitched effectively in his first start since breaking COVID-19 protocols and his teammates’ trust, and Tyler Naquin doubled home the go-ahead run in Cleveland’s three-run eighth inning as the Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 on Wednesday night to tighten the AL Central.
Clevinger gave up a homer to Max Kepler on his third pitch, but settled in and held the Twins to two runs over six innings in his first start since Aug. 5.
His return meant more than his resume.
Three days after his last outing, Clevinger and teammate Zach Plesac left the team’s Chicago hotel, socialized outside the team’s “bubble,” missed curfew and caused a rift inside the clubhouse.
All seems to be mostly forgiven as Clevinger was welcomed back and the Indians won two of three in the series to close within one-half game of the first-place Twins.
José Ramírez hit a three-run homer in the third and Naquin doubled off Sergio Romo (0-1) in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie. Greg Allen followed with a sacrifice fly, much to the delight of Ramírez and Francisco Lindor, who aimed much of their dugout commentary at the bearded, animated Romo.
Phil Maton (2-0) picked up the win in relief and Brad Hand worked the ninth for his ninth save.
Ramírez put Clevinger and the Indians up 3-2 in the third with his sixth homer, a shot off starter José Berríos that clanged off the base of the foul pole in right.
Clevinger was barely back on the mound when he was down 1-0 after Kepler drove his 94 mph fastball over the wall and onto the tarp-covered seats in right field.
Clevinger and Plesac were demoted by the Indians in the aftermath of violating the team’s code of conduct implemented to keep players, coaches and staff safe from the coronavirus.
Before the game, Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., filling in while Terry Francona recovers from surgery, said Clevinger apologized to his teammates Tuesday night.
Alomar said his pregame message to Clevinger would be: “Just be yourself and pitch your game.”
Clevinger did his normal pregame bullpen warmup, and as he walked back to the Indians dugout, he stopped and shared a few fist bumps and pleasantries with teammates.
BIGGER THAN BALL
As they’ve done all season, Indians players wore T-shirts saying “End Racism” and other justice-related slogans during batting practice. About the same time they were warming up, the NBA postponed three playoff games as teams boycotted to protest the shooting by police of a Black man in Wisconsin.
“It’s great to see, especially Black men, using their platform to kind of take a stand and use their voice for a bigger purpose than just playing a sport,” Indians rookie Triston McKenzie said.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Michael Perez hit a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth inning and the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Perez homered to center off Mychal Givens (0-1). It was his first long ball since Aug. 10, 2018.
Ryan Sherriff (1-0) worked a perfect eighth in his first big league game since May 7, 2018, due to Tommy John surgery.
Diego Castillo pitched the ninth to get his first save. Ten Tampa Bay relievers have a save this season.
Brandon Lowe hit his 10th homer for the Rays, who have won nine of 11.
The Orioles are 8-3 on the road after losing the first two games of the series. Their only other defeat away from home came opening day at Boston.
BLUE JAYS 9, RED SOX 1
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Rowdy Tellez drove in four runs with two homers and a double, and Toronto beat Boston.
Vladimir Guererro Jr. hit a pair of doubles, including a three-run bouncer down the left field line that keyed a four-run seventh inning for Toronto (15-14). Randal Grichuk also homered and drove in two runs.
Five Toronto pitchers combined to allow three hits, struck out seven and walked three.
Rookie right-hander Shun Yamaguchi (1-2) got the win in allowing one run on two hits over four innings of relief .
Mitch Moreland homered for the Red Sox (10-21), who are 4-3 in their past seven since snapping a nine-game skid. Colton Brewer (0-2) got the loss in allowing four runs on five hits, including three homers, in 3 2/3 innings.
METS 5, MARLINS 4
NEW YORK (AP) — Wilson Ramos singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning after hobbled Mets closer Edwin Díaz and the bullpen blew another lead provided by Jacob deGrom, and New York beat Miami.
DeGrom set New York up nicely by matching a career high with 14 strikeouts and handing off a 4-1 lead to begin the eighth inning, but Miami promptly loaded the bases with one out against Justin Wilson. DeGrom set a career high with his 10th consecutive start allowing two or fewer runs.
The Marlins came back to tie the game at 4-all before Robinson Canó led off the bottom of the inning with his third hit, and pinch-runner Billy Hamilton scored from second when Ramos hit a two-out single off Nick Vincent (1-2).
Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo homered for the Mets. Conforto had two hits, two walks and a stolen base, and Canó hit a first-inning, RBI double. Brach (1-0) picked up the win.
Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez allowed four runs — three earned — in four innings. He struck out seven and gave up seven hits and a walk.
TIGERS 7, CUBS 6
DETROIT (AP) — Niko Goodrum hit a two-run double to cap Detroit’s five-run sixth inning, and the Tigers held on to beat the Cubs.
The Cubs trailed 7-3 entering the ninth, but Nico Hoerner hit an RBI single and Albert Almora added a run-scoring double. An infield single by Ian Happ put the tying run on first with nobody out, then Anthony Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly that center fielder Victor Reyes caught against the wall, some 420 feet from the plate.
Detroit pitcher Buck Farmer snagged Kyle Schwarber’s line drive to end it.
Joe Jimenez (1-1) allowed Schwarber’s solo homer in the sixth but got the win in relief. Ryan Tepera (0-1) took the loss.
Detroit finished with a season-high 18 hits. Jonathan Schoop, Miguel Cabrera, Cameron Maybin and Austin Romine had three each.
PHILLIES 3, NATIONALS 2
WASHINGTON (AP) — Aaron Nola threw seven strong innings, and Philadelphia took advantage of Washington’s sloppy outfield defense to rally for a victory.
Bryce Harper delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh to help the Phillies win their third in a row. The defending World Series champion Nationals have dropped three consecutive games to drop to a season-high six games under .500.
Nola (3-2) gave up two runs on five hits while striking out eight. Tommy Hunter tossed a perfect eighth, and recently acquired closer Brandon Workman escaped a two-on, one-out jam by striking out Eric Thames and Victor Robles for his second save with the Phillies and sixth overall.
Rhys Hoskins had a solo homer in the third for Philadelphia.
Juan Soto hit his eighth homer of the season for the Nationals. Reliever Will Harris (0-1) took the loss.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi became the 65th manager in major league history to win 1,000 games, improving to 1,000-808 in 12 seasons.
BRAVES 5, YANKEES 1, Game 1
BRAVES 2, YANKEES 1, Game 2
ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning off Chad Green and Atlanta, led by another strong start from Max Fried, rallied to beat the Yankees to sweep a doubleheader.
The Yankees have lost five straight and saw outfielder Aaron Judge aggravate his strained right calf. The second game of the twinbill was Judge’s first since being activated from the injured list, and he left in the middle of the sixth inning.
In the opener, Ian Anderson dazzled in his big league debut, holding the Yankees hitless into the sixth inning and ending Gerrit Cole’s 20-game winning streak.
Masahiro Tanaka was dominant, allowing only three hits in five scoreless innings as he left the second game with a 1-0 lead. Green (2-1) allowed an infield single to Dansby Swanson with two outs in the sixth before giving up Freeman’s homer, an opposite-field shot over the 385-foot mark in left field.
Fried (5-0) allowed four hits and one run in six strong innings. Mark Melancon pitched the seventh for his fifth save.
Ronald Acuña Jr. celebrated his return to the lineup by leading off the opener with a 473-foot drive against Cole.
Anderson (1-0) gave a depleted Atlanta rotation a huge boost. The 22-year-old right-hander, the third overall pick in the 2016 draft, didn’t allow a hit until Luke Voit connected for his team-leading 11th homer with one out in the sixth.
Dansby Swanson and Marcell Ozuna also homered off Cole (4-1), who suffered his first loss in the regular season since May 22, 2019, with Houston.
Cole had been unbeaten in 28 consecutive regular-season starts — Clemens holds the mark with 30.
WHITE SOX 10, PIRATES 3
CHICAGO (AP) — José Abreu homered, Dallas Keuchel pitched six dominant innings, and surging Chicago pounded Pittsburgh as the White Sox won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Abreu’s 12th home run was Chicago’s fourth of the game and broke it open. Eloy Jiménez slugged a three-run homer, Danny Mendick lined a two-run drive and Edwin Encarnacion added a solo shot for Chicago, which leads the AL with 60 home runs.
Keuchel (5-2) allowed two runs on four hits and struck out seven in his third straight win.
Erik González hit a solo shot off reliever Zack Burdi and Jacob Stallings drove in the Pirates’ two runs off Keuchel with a single in the sixth. Pittsburgh has lost two straight following a three-game winning streak to drop to 7-19, the worst record in the majors.
Cole Tucker had two of the Pirates six hits.
Trevor Williams (1-5) allowed a season-high eight runs and nine hits through six innings.