CLEVELAND (AP) — As the sixth inning started, Mike Pelfrey was in complete control. Dominating.
By the time it ended, Pelfrey was gone, Minnesota’s lead had vanished and the Twins were on their way to their third loss in four games.
Just like that.
Pelfrey unraveled in the sixth, giving up a leadoff solo homer to Yan Gomes and Nick Swisher’s two-run shot as the Cleveland Indians rallied to win their home opener, 7-2 over the Twins on Friday.
Pelfrey held the Indians without a hit until the fifth inning, and carried a 2-0 lead into the sixth before crumbling.
“He just lost it out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Goodness gracious, that was pretty quick.”
Swisher’s homer off Pelfrey (0-1) allowed the Indians to cap a day of pomp and pageantry as they celebrated Progressive Field’s 20th anniversary. Before the sixth, the Indians had been shut out by Pelfrey and were in danger of disappointing a sellout crowd that stuck around following a 2-hour, 13-minute rain delay and plummeting temperatures.
But Swisher, who added a run-scoring double in Cleveland’s four-run seventh, helped the Indians win their first home opener since 2008.
Michael Brantley hit a two-run single in the seventh for the Indians, who were flat and hitless through four innings. But Gomes and Swisher woke the Indians up in the sixth when they finally figured out Pelfrey.
Chris Colabello homered for the Twins, who jumped on starter Danny Salazar for two runs in the first inning and were coasting toward a win when Pelfrey fell apart.
“It kind of ruins the whole day, no matter how the first four innings went,” Pelfrey said. “The game got away from me. It was kind of like a kick in the stomach.”
The Indians didn’t get their first hit off Pelfrey until Carlos Santana’s leadoff double in the fifth. Pelfrey, though, buckled down and stranded the runner, protecting his lead.
“Even in the fifth he got through it,” Gardenhire said. “He went back out for the sixth and wasn’t the same pitcher. He started missing. The next thing you know, a home run, walked a couple of guys on eight pitches and we had to get him out of there. It just went that quick.”
Gomes got things started in the sixth with his leadoff homer, a lined shot into the center-field bullpen to trim Minnesota’s lead to 2-1. Lonnie Chisenhall walked and Nyjer Morgan sacrificed.
Up came Swisher, who fell behind 0-1 before belting his homer, a towering fly pushed deeper into the right-field seats by the gusty winds.
“Hitting becomes contagious,” Pelfrey said. “That little stretch there, a homer, I walked three guys, another homer. The only one I got out was Morgan, who put a sacrifice bunt down. They ran away with it after that. It turned into a rough day.”
After the lengthy delay, the Twins wasted no time once the game began, scoring two runs in the first off Salazar on Josh Willingham’s sacrifice fly and Colabello’s wind-blown homer to right-center.
The free-swinging Colabello, who played seven years in the independent Canadian-American Association before signing with the Twins in 2012, was the International League’s MVP with Triple-A Rochester last season. He batted just .194 but hit seven homers in 55 games with the Twins.
Minnesota had a chance to tack on runs in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. But Colabello lined out to second baseman Jason Kipnis and Trevor Plouffe grounded out to end the inning.
“Colabello hits a rocket that went right in the glove of Kipnis,” Gardenhire said. “That ball was a missile, If that goes through we’ve got action but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
NOTES: The Twins have lost seven straight to the Indians dating to last season. … Gardenhire has 999 career wins. With his next victory, he’ll join Tom Kelly as the only managers in Minnesota history to reach 1,000. … Twins All-Star first baseman Joe Mauer is batting .125 (2-for-16) through four games. … Gardenhire has a special fondness for Progressive Field, known as Jacobs Field for most of its history. “I love this place,” he said. “It’s a beautiful atmosphere with the city in the background and the dude banging on the drum out there. Not too many ballparks have fans sitting right next to your dugout in a glassed-in area offering you a beer.”
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