It was the 12 men on base that haunted them. Bookended by the three straight singles from the middle of their order (Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer and Robbie Grossman) in the first inning and ultimately Mauer’s line out in the ninth after Max Kepler’s double and Sano’s walk, the Minnesota Twins left winning runs on the basepaths tonight, allowing the Cleveland Indians to take Game 1 by a score of 3-1.
“We left a lot of guys on. Opportunities early, they talk about that, about how they come back and…” manager Paul Molitor trailed off, leaving the sentence open. But everyone knew the end of it: those men left on base bite you in the ass.
It was a “typical Cleveland game” Molitor said. Danny Salazar, the starter that night, went six innings, giving up seven hits but only one earned run and striking out seven. Bryan Shaw took care of the seventh. Andrew Miller took care of the eighth. And Cody Allen got the save after giving up a single to Eddie Rosario, who cashed in the Twins only run in the second, and the double to Kepler.
“Well we gave ourselves a chance,” said Molitor. “We’re one swing from extending the game and maybe winning it there. Rosie got us going, and we just kept the inning alive. Kepler hit the double, and Miggy had a really good battle there, and just fouled that one pitch down the line.
“Joe had an opportunity there, and just wasn’t able to cash it in.”
Asked if he was surprised that Indians manager Terry Francona had Allen pitch to Sano in the final frame, Molitor shook his head.
“Not really,” he said. “They obviously pitched carefully. He didn’t really get a fastball to hit, his swings were all on breaking balls. He was just trying to get them to expand a little bit there.
“They trust their guy. He’s their closer.”
As for Kyle Gibson, the 2009 first-rounder was up and down in the 5.1 innings he pitched. He gave up eight hits and three earned runs while only striking out two. Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion cashed in two runs to put the Tribe ahead in the third and Brantley homered off of him in the fifth to seal the game at 3-1.
“I’m not gonna argue over his outing overall, I think he gave us a chance,” said Molitor. “He minimized the damage, and other than a two-out base hit to Encarnacion, the change-up, I think Lindor hit in the corner, and the home run, Brantley can do that to anybody.
“It was better than his first two.”
Taylor Rogers (no hits in 1.0 innings pitched) and Tyler Duffey (one hit in 2.2 innings pitched) kept the Twins within striking distance, but ultimately Minnesota fell short and now sits at 7-6 on the season.
“I talked to him today, I said, ‘It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster for you. Sometimes it’s length, sometimes it’s big outs late,'” said Molitor. “And it just kinda worked out tonight where I kinda want to get him in the game at some point, but to get Rogers in there for those couple of guys where I thought it was a better matchup, and hoping Duffey could finish it out and he did.”
It was a night where a lot went right, but in the end a failure to put score more runs early when Salazar was scuffling and late when Mauer was at the plate with the bases loaded kept the Twins from taking the first game of this four-game series.
Here is the Fox Sports North feed of Molitor’s post-game presser:
Gibson was calm, as usual, after his outing. And while he didn’t seem pleased, it appeared that he acknowledged it was a positive step for him after a rough start to the year:
Rosario said he is feeling better at the plate, especially after getting two hits tonight, as translated by Twins communications assistant Carlos Font:
And Sano had the best quote of the night, without question. Asked about Allen throwing him a meaty curveball, he said: “If he throws me a breaking ball in the middle, I swear to God, I’d crush it.”