Cleveland Indians finding groove, rout Minnesota Twins

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange  |  April 19, 2017 at 12:04 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cleveland Indians are starting to resemble the team that took the American League by storm last year and advanced to Game 7 of the World Series.

Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion each hit two-run homers and Francisco Lindor added a two-run triple as Cleveland belted the Minnesota Twins 11-4 on Tuesday to take the first two contests of the four-game series.

Ramirez, Lindor, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley each had two hits as the Indians scored in five of the first six innings to support starter Josh Tomlin (1-2). Encarnacion, in his first year in Cleveland, added an RBI groundout for the Indians after entering the game with one homer and two RBIs this season.

"I thought we did a good job of pressuring them pretty much all night," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Ramirez and Lindor have paced Cleveland's offense as the team waited for its pitching to match last year's run of quality outings. Lindor ran his hitting streak to 12 games. Ramirez is 14-for-24 with seven runs, three homers and 10 RBIs in his past six contests.

"He's been a blessing," Francona said of Ramirez. "He's continuing to get better and he's a force. He may not look like it in stature, but he's a force. He's a good player."

Phil Hughes (2-1) was out after 3 1/3 innings for Minnesota. He gave up eight hits and six runs (four earned).

Miguel Sano hit his fourth home run of the season for the Twins, a line drive to the opposite field in the eighth. Jason Castro had three hits for Minnesota, which lost for the fourth time in five games.

"I'm disappointed a little bit, to be honest with you," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You come home and are playing teams in your division. Had opportunities to win that Chicago series, but that's history now. Cleveland's come out, they won a good ballgame last night that was well-played and then tonight they just kind of overmatched us."

Ramirez signed a five-year contract with Cleveland in March and got off to a .179 start before going on his tear.

He drove a long fly ball to the warning track in right field in the first, but right fielder Max Kepler dropped the ball allowing a run to score. Ramirez eventually came around to score as well as the Indians put up three runs in the inning.

Ramirez switched bats and then hit his fourth homer of the season in the third, a two-run shot deep to right that cleared the high wall in Minnesota.

"Sometimes you don't feel so good with your bat," Ramirez said through a translator. "You use it in batting practice and it's OK but then you don't feel good with it, so you change it. I got the home run with that."

Tomlin made the lead stand up by having his best outing of the young season. The right-hander entered the day with an 18.47 ERA, but he gave up three runs on seven hits in his six innings to lower his ERA to 11.68.

Cleveland's offense, which entered the night fifth in the American League in scoring, kept adding on. Santana had an RBI single in the fourth, Yandy Diaz drove home a run in the fifth with a sacrifice fly, and Lindor's triple in the sixth scored two runs.

"It was a tough way to start," Hughes said. "I have to find a way to regroup and get us in the dugout. That's the theme for all three of my starts so far. I have to not give up runs in the first inning. That's been kind of a weak spot so far. It sets the tone for the rest of the game and it's not a good way to start."

NOTES: Minnesota INF Ehire Adrianza (right oblique strain) played four innings at shortstop in an extended spring training game Monday as he tries to make his way back from the disabled list. Adrianza will also play some second and third base this week. ... RHP Josh Tomlin had his longest outing of the season. It was the seventh time in nine games a Cleveland starter pitched at least six innings after the staff did so once through the first turn of the rotation. ... Twins RHP Phil Hughes had his shortest outing since pitching two innings May 4, 2016, against Houston. It is the fifth time in his last nine starts he hasn't made it past the fifth inning. ... Indians RHP Trevor Bauer (0-2, 8.44 ERA) starts Wednesday night in the third contest of the four-game series. LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-1, 4.05) takes the ball for Minnesota.

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