Victor Martinez hit a tie-breaking two-run homer to lift the Indians to a 4-3 win on Tuesday. Ben Broussard also homered for the Indians, who have won eight of 10 to reach .500 for the first time since April 8 (2-2).
“I think we’re way better than .500,” said starter C.C. Sabathia, who won for the first time in four starts this season against Minnesota. “I think we’re going to win this division, and .500 ain’t going to get it done.”
The Indians, who have not won five straight since a six-game winning streak from Aug. 9-14, opened a season-high 12-game road trip with yet another hotly contested chapter in the rivalry.
Of the 11 games between the teams this season, seven have been decided by one run. The Twins and Indians split a four-game series last weekend that included three extra-inning games.
Sabathia, who caused friction earlier this season by saying he hated the Twins, threw inside to Shannon Stewart in the second inning after Juan Castro hit a two-run double—drawing some boos from the crowd.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire received his second ejection in the series for arguing—the same charge that got him the first in a 9-0 win over the Indians on May 5 in which Stewart was hit by a pitch. This time, he got mad when both benches were warned after Twins starter Carlos Silva threw high to Jody Gerut in the sixth.
“Somebody’s going to have to tell me where we’re going with this,” Gardenhire said. “When they try to drill us, which I know what happens with that guy, then it’s going to have to come the other way. Look at how many of our guys have been hit to their guys. I don’t have an answer. All I know is my wife is mad at me, because it’s going to cost me more money.”
Indians starter Cliff Lee looks to remain undefeated on the road this season, having gone 5-0 with a 2.88 ERA in six starts. The left-hander allowed two singles in six shutout innings to earn his team-leading sixth victory in a 4-1 home win over Oakland on Friday.
Juan Castro drove in all three runs Tuesday for Minnesota, which has lost consecutive games for the first time since a three-game skid from May 11-14.