MINNEAPOLIS — The Indians arrived at Target Field this weekend with a chance to begin seizing control of the American League Central. Cleveland took a major step in that direction with a four-game sweep, culminating in a 5-2 win on Sunday that was powered by a pair of home runs from slugger Edwin Encarnacion.
Encarnacion’s display, which gave him 16 long balls on the season, backed a strong start by right-hander Trevor Bauer, and marked the third time in as many games that a Cleveland batter cleared the fence twice. With the win, the first-place Indians also moved two games ahead of Minnesota, marking the Tribe’s largest division lead of the year.
After Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall each went deep twice during Saturday’s twin bill, Encarnacion recorded the 27th multi-homer game of his career in the finale. Both shots were off Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson, who was handed the loss after allowing eight hits across six innings.
Encarnacion ended the afternoon with five RBIs, including one on a single in the seventh and one on a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Bauer, meanwhile, did his part to maintain the team’s advantage atop the division standings. Bauer, who was lifted after a leadoff walk in the eighth, gave up a pair of runs off four hits and struck out eight. At one point, he sat down 14 consecutive batters before plunking Kennys Vargas with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Eduardo Escobar then cashed in with an RBI double, and Eddie Rosario followed with an RBI single.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Miles per Zimmer: The Twins appeared poised to score first in the bottom of the second, as Eddie Rosario smacked a one-out single into center and Max Kepler attempted to score from second base. However, Kepler was thrown out on a perfect nab by Cleveland center fielder Bradley Zimmer to keep the game scoreless. According to Statcast™, Zimmer’s two-hopper to the plate was the hardest-thrown outfield assist (101.5 mph) in the Majors this season. It needed to be, as Kepler’s second-to-home time of 6.74 seconds was his second-fastest this season.
Allen enters early: Robbie Grossman worked a leadoff walk in the eighth to ultimately chase Bauer from the contest. The Tribe elected to bring in closer Cody Allen, who worked around a walk of his own to get out of the frame unscathed. Following a two-out walk to Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano came to the plate representing the go-ahead run. He immediately swung at the first pitch and flew out softly to right. Allen has made 27 appearances for the Tribe, with only six of them taking place before the final inning.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Twins on Sunday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.