Twins 5, Indians 4, 11 innings
CLEVELAND (AP)—Before the next Minnesota-Cleveland series, maybe the bitter rivals should be sent a different warning: Beware of extra innings.
Stewart ripped a 2-2 pitch from Riske (1-2) over the wall in straightaway center field and into the empty picnic pavilion as the Twins won the third straight extra-inning game between the AL Central teams, whose history of on-field confrontations prompted an advisory from Major League Baseball to behave themselves.
“Three straight extra-inning games?” said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. “I’ve never had that before, not even in the minor leagues. It’s amazing. Everyone got their money’s worth—fans, players and owners.”
Of the 10 games between the Twins and Indians this season, six have been decided by one run and nine by three runs or less.
The Indians had not played extras against the same team in three games in a row since Aug. 28-30, 1967, at Kansas City. The Twins hadn’t played three consecutive extra-inning games since 1977.
“Pretty crazy, pretty nuts,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “In the dugout, you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how to get through the game. It was mentally and physically draining. We’re happy to get the split and happy to get out of town.”
Jesse Crain (5-0) pitched the 10th and Joe Nathan worked a shaky 11th for his 14th save. Nathan, who blew his second save on Wednesday night, gave up a two-out walk and single before getting Jody Gerut to fly to right.
Minnesota’s bullpen, which came in with a 2.59 ERA, shut out Cleveland over the final five innings on four hits.
Gerut had three hits for Cleveland, which got 16 hits, including at least one hit in every inning, but dropped to 7-13 in one-run games.
Indians third baseman Aaron Boone made two fielding errors, failed to bunt a runner over in the eighth and popped out on the first pitch with a runner on in the 10th.
“Me, we have to do a better job of executing the little things,” said Boone, who was booed following his errors and fruitless at-bats. “We’ve got to execute, period. We’ve got to get the job done.”
Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia, who before the season said he hated the Twins, still can’t beat them. The left-hander pitched well enough to win but was hurt by five walks, the most painful one with two outs to Mike Redmond in the ninth.
That one cost Sabathia a chance to finish, as he gave up an infield single to pinch-hitter Terry Tiffee and left after throwing 118 pitches. Sabathia allowed four runs and six hits in 8 2-3 innings.
“Losing these games in extra innings is hard,” Sabathia said. “You can hear how quiet the clubhouse is.”
Twins starter Brad Radke cruised into the seventh with a 4-1 lead, but had it all fall apart in the span of four batters as the Indians hit three straight doubles and a triple to tie it.
Alex Cora led off with a fly ball to the gap in left-center that dropped in between outfielders Stewart and Hunter, who stared at each other waiting for the other to take charge.
“The ball was tailing away from me,” Hunter said. “So I looked at him and was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I had no chance at it.”
Ronnie Belliard followed with an RBI double, and Grady Sizemore blooped a two-base hit to make it 4-3. Casey Blake then hit a shot to right-center that Hunter nearly grabbed after a long run but had the ball bounce off his glove, allowing Sizemore to score and chase Radke.
Radke gave up four runs and 12 hits in six-plus innings. In his previous start against Cleveland, he threw a three-hit shutout.
Stewart was 1-for-17 in the series before his homer. … Cleveland has reportedly given permission to Kansas City to talk with bench coach Buddy Bell about the Royals’ managerial vacancy. Bell, 53, has managed Detroit and Colorado. The Royals have been looking for a manager since Tony Pena resigned on May 10. … C Joe Mauer sat out his second straight game with a tight groin. … Tiffee snapped an 0-for-22 skid with his single. … Oddly, the Twins came in leading the majors with a .310 average with runners in scoring position, but they’re batting just .185 (10-for-54) with the bases loaded.