Odorizzi exits and Twins fall 5-3 to Indians, losing season series
CLEVELAND — Just when it looked as though Jake Odorizzi might venture into the seventh inning for the second straight start, he suddenly couldn't find the strike zone.
Consecutive one-out, four-pitch walks to Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion ended Odorizzi's day in the sixth, and Jason Kipnis' three-run homer off reliever Alan Busenitz capped a four-run uprising that sent the Twins to a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 30.
Despite taking seven of the first 10 meetings between the teams this season, the Twins lost the season series 10-9 to the runaway leaders of the American League Central. Since Terry Francona's arrival as Indians manager in 2013, the Twins have won the season series just once: 2015, when they went 12-7.
"I assumed I was staying in the game," Odorizzi said. "I thought I had more, but that wasn't the case and that's all I can really say. I thought I had a pretty good game going. It didn't end up that way."
Yonder Alonso greeted Busenitz with a tying single through the left side to beat the shift. After retiring Melky Cabrera on a fly to shallow right, Busenitz saw Kipnis turn around a 96-mph fastball on a 2-2 count and sneak it just beyond the reach of leaping Max Kepler at the right-field wall.
Kipnis, the veteran second baseman who also doubled in the third, entered the day slugging just .339 in 69 trips against the Twins this year. Just two of his 13 homers this year have now come against the Twins.
In 118 career games against them, Kipnis has homered 19 times, four more than against the Kansas City Royals, his next closest opponent. His .835 combined on-base/slugging percentage against the Twins is his third-best for any opponent he's faced in at least 10 games.
Odorizzi had thrown just 86 pitches before his sudden loss of control against a pair of dangerous hitters. He had started 11 of 20 hitters with strikes while inducing eight swinging strikes.
Last time out, Odorizzi ended a major league record-long skid of 26 straight starts to open a season without recording an out after the sixth inning. Odorizzi has now managed that modest feat just once in his past 32 starts dating to last season with the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I think I've shown some improvements in the second half," Odorizzi said. "I'd have liked to stay out there, obviously. In that situation, you're one pitch away from getting out of the inning. It's tough to come out when you have that opportunity in front of you. Hopefully, sometime down the road I'll get a chance to get my way out of it."
Ehire Adrianza, hitting just .209 with 22 strikeouts in 67 at-bats since starting shortstop Jorge Polanco returned from suspension on July 1, clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth off Indians starter Mike Clevinger. It was Adrianza's sixth homer, one more than his combined total from the previous five seasons in the majors.
Miguel Sano added his 13th homer, a solo shot to right, off Indians closer Brad Hand in the ninth. Chaska's Hand closed it out for his 30th save in 35 chances, including his time with the San Diego Padres.
Left fielder Eddie Rosario left the game in the fifth inning with a strained upper right quadriceps. Rosario suffered the injury an inning earlier while legging out an infield single, and aggravated it chasing Michael Brantley's double to the gap in the fourth.
"We'll probably find out (Friday) what we're looking at," manager Paul Molitor said. "I would imagine he's not going to play in Texas (against the Rangers)."
With five hits in the series, including four in his final five trips, Rosario moved within nine of J.D. Martinez's league lead and within two of Puerto Rican rival Francisco Lindor, who ranks fourth.
After going 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position and still managing to eke out a 4-3 win on Wednesday, the Twins failed to take a single such at-bat on Thursday.
The Twins broke out a four-man outfield for the first time against MVP candidate Jose Ramirez in the first. It was believed to be the first time all year any Indians hitter had faced a four-man outfield, but it worked when Ramirez lined out to Kepler in the right-field corner.