Unlikely Hero Escobar Homers In The 10th To Give Twins 1-0 Win
CLEVELAND -- Eduardo Escobar usually shows off his power during pregame batting practice.
On Monday night, he did some flexing in the 10th inning.
Escobar, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, connected on a 1-0 pitch from Axford (0-3), driving it over the wall in right for his first homer since June 20 and fourth of his career in 344 at-bats.
"He can swing it, we've all seen that," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "You watch him in batting practice, he hits them as far as anybody. It's a big moment. It's cool. You see the big smile on his face and everyone else."
It was the second straight gut-wrenching loss for Axford, who gave up a three-run homer in the ninth to Chicago's Dayan Viciedo on Sunday as the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 win. In that game, Cleveland catcher George Kottaras homered twice, becoming the first player in franchise history to homer in his first two plate appearances, and Corey Kluber struck out 13.
Caleb Thielbar (2-0) pitched a perfect ninth and Glen Perkins struck out two in the 10th for his eighth save.
Escobar came in for Pedro Floriman and grounded out with two runners on in the seventh. He more than atoned with his game-winning shot into the seats.
"It's a great feeling to be able to come up with a big swing in that spot," he said. "I'm really happy for the team more than anything else."
The Indians, who only got two runners to second base, had been the only team in the majors not to play in an extra-inning game.
Cleveland has dropped eight of 10, and scoring is a huge issue. The Indians have scored three runs or less in 19 of their 32 games.
Both teams got strong efforts from their starting pitchers.
Minnesota's Kyle Gibson allowed only two hits in seven scoreless innings, and Cleveland's Zach McAllister gave up five hits while blanking the Twins over 6 2/3 shutout innings.
The Twins played without first baseman Joe Mauer, who is day-to-day with lower back spasms.
Gibson has been blessed with an abundance of runs all season. The Twins came in averaging 7.14 runs in his first five starts, but they couldn't push one across against McAllister, who was pitching on regular rest after going on three days' last week in Los Angeles.
Gibson and second baseman Brian Dozier combined on a sparkling defensive play in the fourth.
Michael Brantley hit a grounder toward right that Dozier stopped with a dive before spinning in one motion and throwing toward first. With first baseman Chris Colabello out of position, Gibson alertly covered and snagged Dozier's throw on one hop before sliding into the bag ahead of Brantley.
"The only thing that could have made that play more funny than it was, was if Colabello had gotten hit right in the butt," Gardenhire said. "He had no clue where the ball was going. That was a great, athletic play by Dozier. I've never seen a pitcher go sliding into first base like that to catch a throw."
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