MINNEAPOLIS — Despite a quick turnaround from Saturday night’s game that ended just after 12:30 a.m. local time, Cleveland’s big bats woke up for the series finale Sunday afternoon.
The Indians received a strong effort by starter Josh Tomlin and blasted three homers of more than 400 feet each to pick up a 6-1 victory at Target Field.
The Indians improved to 28-12 against American League Central opponents and earned their first series win against the Twins this season.
Greenfield-Central graduate Kyle Gibson took the loss. The Twins’ right-handed starter lasted six innings, allowing a season-high 10 hits and four earned runs.
“They’ve given us some fits,” Tomlin told MLB.com reporters of the Twins. “It’s nice to come in here and take two from them.”
Mike Napoli launched a leadoff home run off Gibson in the second inning, giving the Tribe an early advantage. Three straight two-out singles in the fifth, including a run-scoring hit from Carlos Santana, added to Cleveland’s lead against Gibson, who fell to 2-6 on the season.
“I thought (Gibson) was pretty good today, for the most part,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told MLB.com reporters. “He attacked a little bit better early, and we just didn’t have enough offense. We were struggling offensively throughout most of the series. We didn’t come out swinging the way we did down in Texas, so it’s a little disappointing not to find a way to come back and win the series when we had a chance today.”
The Indians pulled away in the sixth after catcher Chris Gimenez, who replaced an injured Yan Gomes in the fifth inning, made the Twins pay for two defensive misplays with a two-run single.
Tyler Naquin added an insurance run with a solo homer to center in the eighth. The blast off the black backdrop behind the center-field berm was the rookie’s 10th of the year.
Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis, who reached base four times in the win, added his 15th homer of the year in the ninth.
Minnesota could only muster a solo homer by Max Kepler against Tomlin, who scattered six hits in 7⅔ innings to remain undefeated in nine road starts. He improved his overall record to 10-2, joining Danny Salazar as the second Cleveland starter to reach 10 wins.
“I think the big inning was when they added on (in the sixth), when they got to four,” Molitor said. “The ball had a lot of height, and I don’t think (Santana) thought it was hit as well as it was. But we saw balls carrying today. It was one of those days where you can’t afford to drift. The ball might beat you.”
Gimenez made the Twins pay for their mistakes with his two-out, two-run single.
“Mistakes are part of the game,” Gibson remarked after the game to MLB.com reporters. “Baseball is a game built on failure and how you deal with it. Very rarely are you judged on how you deal with success — on anything in life. It’s more about how you deal with adversity. I had a chance there to still make a pitch and to get a guy I’ve faced before, and I just didn’t make a pitch.”
After picking up back-to-back wins against the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers on June 28 and July 3, respectively, Gibson lowered his season ERA to 4.82.
A no-decision against Texas on July 8 and Sunday’s loss pushed his ERA back up to 5.12. This year, he’s surrendered seven or more hits and four or more earned runs five times in 10 starts.
Kyle Gibson had a hard time subduing the Cleveland Indians lineup on Sunday. The Greenfield-Central graduate lasted 6.0 innings and suffered the loss after allowing 10 hits and four earned runs. Gibson’s pitching line against the Indians as well as for the 2016 season: