MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Eli Morgan threw six scoreless innings, Daniel Johnson hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians held on to beat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Morgan (2-5) allowed just three hits and struck out eight to win for the first time since June 28, which was his first major league victory. James Karinchak escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Emmanuel Clase earned his 17th save in 21 chances, running his scoreless streak to 12 1/3 innings.
Johnson, in his first game back after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus for the third time this season, opened the scoring with a no-doubt shot to the plaza in right field in the fifth off Minnesota rookie Bailey Ober.
“Once I’m given the opportunity to come back up here, make the most of it,” Johnson said. “Don’t really think about when I’m going down, when I’m coming back up again. Just take it a day at a time playing up here and just play.”
Ober (1-2) cruised through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Coming off perhaps his best outing this season, he gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits in six innings.
The 6-foot-9 right-hander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last six starts.
A 2017 draft pick out of the College of Charleston, Ober eclipsed his season high with 79 2/3 innings pitched this season for Minnesota and Triple-A St. Paul.
“I’ve continued to hopefully keep pushing that,” Ober said. “I’m feeling really good right now, body’s feeling great. I’m going to keep going and doing what I’m doing, and hopefully I keep doing well.”
The Twins, who had won eight of 11 and taken three straight series from playoff contenders, missed their chances to continue the run.
Cleveland reliever Trevor Stephan loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth on three straight walks. Minnesota plated one run on Jorge Polanco’s fielder’s choice grounder off Karinchak. Then he struck out Josh Donaldson and got Luis Arraez to ground out.
The Twins also loaded the bases with no outs against Morgan in the second, but Miguel Sanó struck out and Rob Refsnyder bounced into a 1-2-3 double play on a checked swing.
“I really think that turned his game around because those next four innings, he was pretty good,” interim Indians manager DeMarlo Hale said. “Just a great effort. You talk about making an adjustment from start to start, and I thought he did that.”
Minnesota was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“I think when we had some guys in scoring position, we just didn’t take advantage,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We didn’t hit a ball and find a patch of grass. I’ll say this, as a whole, I don’t think our at-bats today were that much different than a lot of games where we score four, five, six runs.”
COVID-19 HITS COACHES
Minnesota was without two coaches due to COVID-19. The team confirmed that first-base coach Tommy Watkins tested positive for the virus. Watkins was vaccinated. He left in the third inning of Monday’s game with an illness. Field coordinator Kevin Morgan took Watkins’ spot as first-base coach.
Hitting coach Edgar Varela was already away from the team with COVID-19. Varela had left the team to deal with COVID-19 issues in his family and contracted the virus himself.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (right subscapularis strain) threw his second bullpen, which consisted of 25 pitches. … 1B Bobby Bradley (left knee strain) has progressed to baseball activities, including soft toss. There’s still no timetable for his return.
Twins: RHP Randy Dobnak (right middle finger strain) traveled to Florida to continue his rehab program. He is expected to play in a rehab game with Class A Fort Myers and potentially throw as many as 50 pitches. The team wants him to be stretched out for more innings when he returns.
RHP Zach Plesac (7-4, 4.64 ERA) will start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale for Cleveland. Baldelli announced after the game that LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-2, 3.86) will be recalled from Triple-A St. Paul to start for Minnesota, pitching in the rotation spot opened when Michael Pineda went on the injured list last weekend with a left oblique strain.
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