Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor, right, is congratulated by Yan Gomes after he scored on a single by Jose Ramirez off Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 15, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ji
Jim Mone
July 15, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Cleveland Indians were one of baseball's biggest surprises in the first half of the season. After they limped into the All-Star break, Mike Napoli made sure they got the second half started on the right foot.

Napoli had three hits, including his 19th home run, Carlos Carrasco pitched into the seventh inning and the Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Friday night.

The Indians had lost four of their last five games before the break but they maintained their 6 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.

They used the four days off to recuperate from an intense first half that included 14-game winning streak from June 17 to July 1, but manager Terry Francona said he was guarding against the vacation mentality carrying over into the start of the second half.

''You kind of walk the fine line because you want them to have the rest, and you hope the rust doesn't get in the way,'' Francona said. ''I thought the guys did a good job of shaking it off.''

Napoli scored three runs, one on his solo shot into the bullpen in left-center in the eighth inning that stretched Cleveland's lead to three runs.

''Everybody looked fresh,'' Napoli said. ''It's going to be a grind down the stretch, but for us to be able to get some rest, it's nice.''

Carrasco (6-3) allowed two runs on four hits while striking out three in 6 2/3 innings. He won for the fourth time in his last five starts. Cody Allen pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances.

Twins starter Ervin Santana (3-8) was coming off a shutout in his last start. But the Indians chased him with three straight singles in the sixth inning, when they took a 4-2 lead. Jose Ramirez lined a pitch that kicked off the heel of Santana's glove hand and into center field to put Cleveland ahead 3-2, ending Santana's night.

''If it finds the glove instead of the wrist, you might get a double play and get off the field,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''But it made its way to center field.''

Brian Dozier drove in both of the Twins' runs. He had a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a home run off an inside fastball in the fourth.

''It's the only one I saw,'' Dozier said of the fastball from Carrasco. ''He made some mistakes and I got that one. He made some more and we didn't execute on those times.''


Ramirez continued to provide unexpected offense for the Indians with two more run-scoring hits on Friday. He's driven in six runs in his last three games and is hitting .313 in July. The 23-year-old utility player has held down third base and the fifth spot in the batting order of late as the Indians wait for Michael Brantley to return from a shoulder injury.

''He sprays the ball all over the field. That's why we're hitting him where we're hitting him, because regardless of who's pitching or what type, he puts the ball in play,'' Francona said. ''With (Brantley) gone, he's been hitting in the middle of the order for us. I think that speaks volumes.''


Napoli led off the second inning with a drive to deep left-center field that looked like a sure extra-base hit. But Twins center fielder Byron Buxton played the ball on the first hop off the fence, spun and fired a strike to second baseman Dozier, who slapped the tag on a sliding Napoli.


Indians: Brantley continued his rehab assignment, moving up to Double-A Akron for Friday night's game. Francona said he expected Brantley to play six or seven innings and that he was close to being able to play in back-to-back games.

Twins: Buxton (knee) returned to the lineup after missing most of the last three games before the break. He had not played since slamming his leg into the center field fence trying to make a catch in the first inning of the Twins' July 8 game against the Rangers.


Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (7-3) had won three consecutive starts before his last outing, a 5-4 loss to the Yankees on July 7. He gave up a season-high five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. That raised his ERA from 3.02 to 3.30, which was still good for ninth-best in the AL at the break.

Twins: Minnesota has scored 48 runs in the last four games started by RHP Tyler Duffey (5-6). The Twins have won all four, and Duffey has earned the victory in the last three. In his most recent outing on July 7 at Texas, Duffey threw six scoreless innings and struck out a season-high nine batters.

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