There were several dramatic games across Major League Baseball on Sunday, but none had the importance of the Indians’ 10-inning win over the Twins. The victory evened the teams atop the AL Central Division and came after the Twins nearly staged a dramatic win of their own.
Cleveland rode a strong pitching performance from rookie Aaron Civale and its bullpen to take a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning. Minnesota rallied in the ninth, tying the game off of closer Brad Hand, but the Indians got a grand slam from Carlos Santana to win in dramatic fashion.
The AL Central race is dead even now. Each team stands at 71-47 with 44 games to play. Gentlemen, start your engines.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 11, 2019
Plenty of drama
The Twins already had played one of the season’s best games at home, losing 12-11 to the New York Yankees last month. This one just about lived up to that.
Start in the ninth inning. After Luis Arraez drove in one run with an RBI single, Marwin Gonzalez doubled to left field. Arraez scored easily to tie the game, but the Indians threw out the trail runner, Ehire Adrianza, at the plate.
Left fielder Tyler Naquin and cutoff man Francisco Lindor each made a perfect throw to get Adrianza in a close play at the plate.
“It was actually perfect. I don’t know if you could do it any better,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, according to the Associated Press.
Then came the 10th. Twins closer Taylor Rogers had pitched two innings Saturday but extra innings forced him into action. He gave up a single, a walk and a bunt single to load the bases for Santana. Santana pulled a 2-1 pitch that caught too much plate into the left-field bullpen for the mortal blow.
— Billy Heyen (@Wheyen3) August 11, 2019
MLB.com’s ranking of remaining schedules earlier this week shows that the Twins have the easier road going forward. Still, the Indians once trailed by 11.5 games in the Central and have caught Minnesota. The Tribe also has more players with postseason pedigree who will be used to the pressure of September.
The next week or two might tell us a lot. Cleveland plays Boston for three at home and then must travel to New York for a four-game series with the Yankees and three with the red-hot Mets.
At the same time, the Twins have two at Milwaukee but then play the middle-of-the-pack Rangers and then the bottom-feeding Royals and White Sox for a couple of weeks.
The teams do have six more games against each other in September, so if the Indians can stay even until then, they’ll have a great chance.
The @Indians trailed the Twins by 11.5 games on June 3.
Less than 10 weeks later, they’re tied for first in the AL Central. pic.twitter.com/VZZcYWfMfS
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 10, 2019