Max Kepler made history on Thursday night as he is now the only player to ever record two three homerun games at Progressive Field in its history. Kepler reached base safely in all five at-bats which included one walk and four hits, three of which were homeruns.
Cleveland came up just short of Minnesota by a final score of 5-4 as the offense combined for just four hits, including a homerun in the third consecutive game by Roberto Perez. Rookie Oscar Mercado delivered a pinch hit to left field in the ninth inning, and Carlos Santana and Tyler Naquin also chipped in with hits of their own.
Jose Berrios dominated the Tribe's offense as he surrendered just two runs on only two hits in six innings. Berrios allowed only one walk. He also recorded six strikeouts on 107 pitches, 74 of which were for strikes. The strike zone tonight was very tough to gauge as homeplate umpire Roberto Ortiz continually called pitches that were nearly two widths of the baseball off of the plate away to left-handed batters for strikes.
"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong for me lately" says Trevor Bauer after he dropped his fifth consecutive decision for the first time in his career. He now falls to 4-6 on the season. "Besides Kepler, he was pretty good" says Indians Manager Terry Francona when asked on Bauer's performance. Kepler ultimately ruined the evening for Bauer, as he claimed three of five hits allowed by Bauer tonight. Bauer did retire seven batters on strikes and was on the mound for eight innings, giving the Tribe's bullpen some much needed rest.
The Indians drop to 31-31 on the season and are now 10.5 games back of the Twins in the AL Central Standings. In head to head meetings, Cleveland and Minnesota have each won three games apiece. There are still 13 head to head meetings left in the season between the two ball clubs, so the battle is far from over.
Cleveland will have no time to hang their heads over the loss as they are now slated for a three game series against the AL East leading New York Yankees. Zach Plesac will make his third start of the season against Domingo German, who is currently 9-1 with a 3.66 ERA.
Tune in to SportsTime Ohio at 7:10 PM on Friday evening for the first pitch to see if the Tribe can right the ship and continue to cut into Minnesota's division lead.