CLEVELAND – Errors. Bad routes on fly balls. Bungled baserunning. The Twins did it all — badly — on Wednesday.
That they were one swing away from tying the score in the ninth inning was remarkable — and then they got that swing.
Miguel Sano’s first homer since May 31 knotted the score at 2-2. But the Cleveland Indians retaliated in the bottom of the ninth when Francisco Lindor lined Trevor Hildenberger’s hanging changeup into the seats in right for a three-run homer to walkoff the Twins 5-2 at Progressive Field.
Walkoff loss No. 11 of the season was one of the more painful ones because Sano tried to bail out his team with his mighty swing off Indians closer Cody Allen. Then Cleveland, 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position until the ninth, responded.
“It was a big moment for him, hitting a walkoff, which was bad for us,” said Sano, who went 82 plate appearances between home runs. “It’s just part of the game. We need keep working and come back tomorrow and do our job and win the game.”
Hildenberger took over in the ninth and sandwiched two outs around a Jason Kipnis single. One out away from extra innings, Brandon Guyer singled to left. Hildenberger then elevated a changeup, and Lindor extended his arms and lined it into the stands.
“Kipnis goes the other way, and he got behind Guyer and had to come in 3-1, and Lindor’s just a really good hitter,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He got him [Tuesday] and tonight it looked like he was looking for that changeup and he was able to keep it fair.”
From the outset, Twins righthander Jake Odorizzi pitched under duress created by one of the sloppier performances by the Twins defense this season.
To start the first inning, Jake Cave broke the wrong way on Lindor’s liner to center that sailed over him for a double. He had a chance to atone for his mistake on the next play, but he dropped Michael Brantley’s liner for an error. Lindor advanced to third, then scored on a sacrifice fly. It was Cleveland 84th first-inning run this season, the second most in baseball.
Logan Forsythe’s RBI double in the fourth tied the score at 1-1. But the Twins were back at it in the fifth.
With Yan Gomes on first, Guyer bunted down the third base line. Sano rushed in but failed to handle the ball with his bare hand. Lindor hit a bouncing ball that the Twins might have been able to turn into a double play. But the ball spun out of Forsythe’s glove. Forsythe was able to snatch the ball with his right hand and get a force play at second. On cue, Brantley followed with a ground ball to short that allowed the run to score.
There was more.
Mitch Garver was picked off second base in the third when Gomes threw behind him. Garver then threw wildly to second on Jose Ramirez’s stolen base in the bottom of the inning, allowing him to advance to third. Reliever Trevor May threw wildly to first during a pickoff attempt in the sixth, enabling Melky Cabrera to move to second.
The game looked more lopsided than it was — but it was about to get even worse with the latest walkoff disaster.
“It’s not something you want to be a part of,” Odorizzi said. “It shows we’re in a lot of games. I think that’s the brightest spot to take out of it. That’s 11 games we’re in to the very end.”