Indians 9, Twins 6
The Twins rallied for two runs in the ninth inning, then Pierzynski nearly delivered a big hit before striking out on the 14th pitch of his at-bat as the Cleveland Indians held on 9-6 Tuesday night.
Ryan Ludwick hit two home runs for the Indians, who kept the Indians 2 1/2 games behind AL Central leader Kansas City.
“The first multi-home run game in the big leagues is a thrill, but hopefully there’s many more to come,” Ludwick said.
After Corey Koskie fouled out, Pierzynski pinch-hit and battled Baez. With two runners on, Pierzynski fouled off eight pitches, including a long drive to right field that narrowly missed being an extra-base hit by about a foot.
Pierzynski finally fanned on a fastball, and his bat went sailing into the crowd.
“It was a good at-bat against a very good pitcher, and that’s the way it goes,” Pierzynski said. “It was a fun at-bat. I’m disappointed that’s the way it ended, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Baez needed 46 pitches to retire the Twins in the ninth.
Travis Hafner had three of Cleveland’s 15 hits and drove in two runs. The Indians improved to 6-3 against the Twins this season.
Rafael Betancourt (2-1), the third of five Cleveland pitchers, pitched the sixth and seventh innings for the victory.
James Baldwin (0-1) gave up three home runs in only 1 1-3 innings.
Ludwick’s solo homer in the sixth tied it at 4. Ludwick hit a two-run shot in the seventh and Santos and Blake had solo drives.
The four homers by the Indians tied their season-high.
“I take full responsibility,” Baldwin said. “I didn’t go out and make the pitches I wanted to.”
Mays gave up eight hits and three runs in five innings. He had not pitched since Aug. 2 and had not started since July 5—he was in the rotation for the first half of the season but was sent to the bullpen on July 6 because of ineffectiveness, winning only one of his last six starts.
“He kept us close. That’s all you can ask,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Mays. “We were looking for him to keep us in the ballgame for five or six innings.”
Indians starter Billy Traber lasted only three innings, giving up two runs on five hits.
After Hafner’s two-run double in the second inning gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead, the Twins tied the game on a bizarre play in the third.
With one out and runners on second and third, Mientkiewicz struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Catcher Josh Bard trapped the ball, and threw out Mientkiewicz out at first.
When Bard threw, Cristian Guzman broke for home. First baseman Ben Broussard threw back to the plate, but the ball short-hopped Traber covering and bounced away, allowing Guzman to score and letting Shannon Stewart come home from second.
“They were aggressive on the bases right there,” Indians manager EricWedge said. “Obviously, that’s something that can’t happen.”
Prior to Tuesday, Twins relievers had only given up three homers in their previous 49 1-3 innings. … Good things have happened to the Twins recently when their batters strike out. On July 31, they scored the tying run on what had appeared to be a game-ending strikeout. Michael Restovich hesitated before running to first when the pitch got away, and a subsequent throwing error led to the tying run. … Indians OF Milton Bradley was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game because of back spasms. … Cleveland has used 48 players this season, second in the majors only to Texas (50). Their startinglineup Tuesday had a total of 508 major league at-bats entering this season.