by Mike Rodgers
MINNEAPOLIS-- The Minnesota Twins (49-56) added to their season series lead against the Cleveland Indians (57-48) Monday night at Target Field. The Twins improved to 7-3 against the Tribe after tonight’s ninth inning walk-off 5-4 win. The victory cut the Tribe’s AL Central lead to eight games over the Twins, with the two teams having nine games left against each other.
Tribe rookie right-hander Shane Bieber rebounded well against the Twins after giving up seven earned runs in less than two innings of work against the Pirates on July 24. Bieber pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits, four runs (three earned), walking two and striking out seven batters.
Twins starter Ervin Santana lasted five innings giving up six hits, four earned runs, while serving up three home runs. Santana did throw 60 of his 88 pitches for strikes and kept the Twins in the game.
Fernando Rodney (3-2) of the Twins picked up the win and Neil Ramirez (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up a one-out double to Mitch Garver in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Here are three takeaways from tonight’s game.
1. Jose Ramirez AL MVP Case
The Indians third baseman broke out of an 0-for-17 slump Monday night going 2-for-4 with two solo home runs, two RBI, two runs, and a stolen base. His two home runs brought his season total to 32, the most by an Indians player before August since Jim Thome’s 33 in 2001.
Ramirez is batting .294 with 32 homers, 76 RBI, 77 runs and 26 stolen bases. He’s also one of the top defensive third basemen in all of baseball. Ramirez has a great chance to reach 40 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs, and 30 stolen bases.
Those numbers, along with his defensive efforts and leading the Tribe to the playoffs, should be enough to get him a top-3 MVP finish for the second straight year.
2. The division isn’t won yet
The Twins are 7-3 against the Indians this season with nine games left to play. The Tribe have an eight-game lead, but the Twins have their number and with a sweep would only be six games out of the lead. If a sweep does take place the Twins may have a different outlook on the rest of the season.
3. The Tribe couldn’t close
The Indians stranded eight men on base in the last four innings of the game. In the 9th inning the Indians had an opportunity to take the lead. Francisco Lindor was in scoring position but Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez failed to bring Lindor in, who eventually reached third base.
Those are opportunities the Indians must capitalize on against the Twins who have been their biggest challenge in division.
Game two of the series will be Tuesday night at 8:10 p.m. Trevor Bauer (9-6, 2.32 ERA) will face Kyle Gibson (5-7, 3.42 ERA).