CLEVELAND (AP) — His face contorted by emotion, Francisco Lindor looked toward Cleveland’s dugout and released a scream that had seemingly been building for weeks.
“Let’s Go!” Lindor yelled in Spanish after connecting for a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning.
One swing may have helped the Indians leave some troubles behind.
“Move forward,” Lindor said. “Turn the page.”
Shane Bieber corrected some unusual early control issues to strike out 10 and say unbeaten and Lindor hit Cleveland’s biggest homer so far this season, leading the Indians to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
With the Indians trailing 2-1 in sixth, Lindor, who has yet to go on one of those streaks where he can carry his team, followed a leadoff walk to José Ramírez with a homer he and his teammates may look back and remember.
The All-Star shortstop fell behind 1-2 before crushing an 88 mph slider from Jorge Alcala (1-1) into the right-field stands. Before the ball even landed or dropping his bat, Lindor paused to connect with his excited teammates across the way.
It’s been a tough stretch for the Indians. They’ve been playing without manager Terry Francona, who is away due to health issues. The team has also been dealing with the fallout from pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac breaking the club’s code of conduct and being demoted.
Cleveland’s offense hasn’t found its rhythm and wasted great pitching.
But Clevinger is being welcomed back to start Wednesday, Plesac might not be far behind, and Lindor said it’s time for the Indians to look ahead.
“We are on to the next chapter of the book,” he said. “Leave my guys alone. It is what it is. Everything’s in the past, just focus on the future. Just focus on doing things the right way and let’s focus on the things that actually matter with all the things that are happening in society. Just turn the page and let’s focus on the big things in life, for sure.”
After Lindor’s homer, Carlos Santana followed with a walk and one out later pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin delivered an RBI double to put the Indians ahead 4-2.
Bieber (6-0) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings as the Indians ended a four-game losing streak to the Twins and pulled within 1 1/2 games of the AL Central leaders.
Bieber had three walks in the first three innings — he came in with just six in 40 2/3 innings all season — but regrouped. The right-hander fanned the side in the sixth to give him double-digit strikeouts for the third straight game.
“He was out of whack a little bit, so he didn’t have his best command in the game,” Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “But it shows you when you compete, and you’re an ace, you find a way to not only get through a lineup but to fight. He did a fantastic job with that.”
Oliver Pérez and James Karnichak worked a scoreless inning each before closer Brad Hand finished for his eighth save in eight tries.
With Bieber on the mound, the Indians figured to have the pitching edge.
However, Rich Hill matched Cleveland’s ace pitch for pitch. And while the left-hander didn’t win the velocity battle, he had the volume over Bieber as every one of his loud grunts and profane outbursts could be easily heard throughout empty Progressive Field.
Bieber’s control has been impeccable this season, but he was missing his spots in the second when the Twins took a 2-0 lead on Luis Arraez’s RBI double and a two-out RBI single by Max Kepler.
The Twins put some good swings together against Bieber, but missed chances to do more.
“We did hit some balls hard, on the barrel, as well. We gave our ourselves a chance against a very good pitcher,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. “We did not make it easy on him. We were able to get him out of the game at a reasonable point.”
Ramírez’s legs helped the Indians take a 1-0 lead in the first. He singled with one out and then nearly got picked off first by Hill, but beat first baseman Miguel Sanó’s throw to second. Ramirez stole third on the next pitch and scored when Santana’s grounder squeezed through the left side.
The 61-year-old Francona missed his 15th game and he may be away longer than expected after it was revealed he’s been dealing with some blood clotting issues in addition to a gastrointestinal condition.
President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said Francona is on “the path to recovery, but it may take a little bit of time for him to get back into the dugout.”
Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson (calf) continues to rehab at the team’s St. Paul training site. He took some at-bats in instrasquad games there in the past few days and executive vice president Derek Falvey said the team is taking a conservative approach because of Donaldson’s history with calf issues.
Indians: Clevinger returns to make his first start since Aug. 5, three days before he and Plesac ventured out of the team’s hotel in Chicago and risked exposure to the coronavirus. He’ll face Minnesota right-hander José Berríos.
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