MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Cleveland Indians still consider themselves in the AL Central race. It’s not the race they hoped for with Detroit having wrapped up the division title, but the mentality seems to be working so far.
“We already kind of yesterday put that behind us and knew that eventually it was going to come,” Indians manager Manny Acta said Saturday after his team jumped on Minnesota early and beat the Twins 10-4.
“Decided yesterday we were going to have our own little race here and try to finish second,” he said.
Carlos Santana tied a club record with his 25th home run to help the Indians go up 8-0 early, and Jeanmar Gomez pitched effectively into the seventh before leaving with an injury.
The Indians, leading Chicago for the second spot in the Central, sent Minnesota to its seventh straight loss.
Gomez (4-2) won his fourth straight start since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30. He allowed two runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings, sending the Twins to their seventh straight loss.
“We were able to score enough runs early in the game to give a nice comfortable lead to Gomez so he could settle down, and he took advantage of it,” Acta said.
Gomez was one out away from getting out of the seventh when he came up limping trying to make a play on Ben Revere’s bouncer up the middle. Gomez walked off the field and was relieved by Josh Judy.
Afterward, Gomez said he felt like he “almost” twisted his right knee, but was all right and anticipated making his next start.
The Indians made it easy for Gomez, scoring seven early runs off Anthony Swarzak (3-7). Already up 3-0 in the second, Cleveland got a two-run triple from Jason Kipnis before Santana lined a 3-2 pitch from Swarzak an estimated 414 feet into the right-field seats. Santana has four homers in his last five games.
“I try hitting home runs every day,” Santana said.
Santana’s 25 home runs tie Victor Martinez for the most by a Cleveland switch-hitter. Fittingly, Santana said Martinez was his favorite player growing up, and that he’s worn Martinez’s No. 41 throughout his life.
Lester Oliveros relieved Swarzak and gave up an RBI double to Matt LaPorta before the Twins finally got out of the second.
“He didn’t make very many good pitches today,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s been throwing the ball really well for us. He made mistakes today and they pounded him early, jumped on him early.”
It was the kind of offensive performance the Indians could’ve used over the last month when the Tigers pulled away in the standings.
“We had a little talk, I think it was kind of to go out with some pride, to play hard through the finish line, to not look back on the last month and not have that be the way that we remember the season,” Kipnis said.
The Twins could use a similar talk.
Minnesota has lost 12 of 13. Chris Parmelee had three RBIs and three hits, including a two-run homer in the Twins eighth that made it 8-4.
Cleveland added two more runs in the ninth on singles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall.
With Swarzak chased early, the Twins found some time for starters Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing, who both fell out of Minnesota’s rotation because of injuries.
Liriano, who went on the disabled list last month with a shoulder strain, pitched two scoreless innings in his first action since Aug. 25. Duensing made his second relief appearance since sustaining a strained oblique earlier this month and threw a scoreless seventh.
NOTES: Minnesota used a season-high eight pitchers. … Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti met with reporters before the game and reiterated the team’s disappointment with not making the postseason. “That was our goal at the start of the year and unfortunately we were unable to accomplish that, but I think when you step back from it and look back at the year as a whole, there were a lot of positive things that came from it,” Antonetti said. “I feel like we’re a step closer at the end of this season than we were at the end of last season.” … Cleveland plays two doubleheaders next week. Acta said he anticipates calling up Zach McAllister from Columbus to start Tuesday against Chicago. He also expects to activate Josh Tomlin from the DL to start next Saturday against Minnesota. … The Indians go for the three-game sweep Sunday when they send Justin Masterson to the mound. Masterson is 11-10 and makes his 33rd start of the season. Minnesota counters with Carl Pavano, who is 8-12 this season. Pavano is 1-0 with a 2.11 ERA against Cleveland this year.
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