MINNEAPOLIS — Indians manager Terry Francona thought it was going to be an Edwin Encarnacion-led victory Sunday afternoon at Target Field.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, a different Eddie stole the show.
Eddie Rosario hit his third homer of the game, launching a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Minnesota Twins over the Indians 7-5.
Encarnacion hit two long home runs, and Michael Brantley’s solo shot off Addison Reed in the eighth tied it at 5, but the struggling bullpen couldn’t bring home the victory as the Indians dropped their third straight after a six-game winning streak.
“I thought today was one of those days where he’d put us on his shoulders and we won,” Francona said of Encarnacion. “Well, we didn’t. And it kills you. But if he starts to heat up like that, boy, that’ll be tremendous.”
Encarnacion’s second homer was a three-run shot in the sixth that put Cleveland on top 4-3. Reliever Ryan Pressly came on with a runner on second and two out, but he walked Jose Ramirez before Encarnacion hit the first pitch for his 16th homer of the season.
It wasn’t enough for the Indians, and after suffering through a historic streak of walk-off losses, the Twins were only too happy to reverse the trend.
On Tuesday, the Twins tied the 1968 Pirates and 2010 Mariners with their eighth walk-off loss in their first 50 games.
“As many as we’ve experienced, we haven’t had a lot of those chances to see the home plate celebrations,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “The right guy did it. I didn’t see exactly what happened at home plate, but I’m sure it was pretty festive.”
Rosario became the first Twins player to have a pair of three-homer games. He also hit three home runs last June 13 at home against the Mariners. Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva are among the Twins who did it once.
Cleveland closer Cody Allen (2-2) walked Brian Dozier to lead off the ninth. Then he fell behind Rosario 2-1.
With the heart of the Twins’ order coming up, Rosario knew Allen couldn’t afford to put another runner on, and he was ready for what came next.
“After he threw me a second ball, I knew he was going to throw me a fastball,” said Rosario, who popped up a 2-0 pitch against Allen when they faced each other Thursday. “It was up, and he throws 95, but I stayed through the ball. I didn’t know where the ball was going, but I wanted to try to finish the game.”
Rosario, who began the day with 10 homers, hit a solo homer in the first inning and another solo homer in the seventh. Dozier also homered for the Twins, whose struggling offense erupted for 29 runs in the four-game series.
Dozier led off the seventh against Indians starter Mike Clevenger with his ninth homer of the season to tie it at 4. Rosario then greeted reliever Tyler Olson with his second homer of the game.
Fernando Rodney (2-2) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the victory.
Twins starter Kyle Gibson was perfect through the first four innings, striking out six batters. Encarnacion led off the fifth with a 434-foot drive to the second deck in left field.
The Twins are 4-2 against the Indians this year.
“I think we’re going to be a team that’s going to win a lot of close ballgames,” Gibson said. “I think that’s going to be our team identity, and coming through like that with a walk-off was a big win in this series.”
The game wouldn’t have reached the bottom of the ninth if not for some outstanding defense by the Indians. First, center fielder Bradley Zimmer saved at least one run with a spectacular diving grab on Ryan LaMarre’s drive to left-center in the second. Then Francisco Lindor’s perfect relay throw to the plate nailed Ehire Adrianza, who was trying to score the go-ahead run on LaMarre’s double in the eighth.
Encarnacion has 15 homers in 37 career games at Target Field, more than any other opposing player. Meanwhile, Dozier’s ninth homer of the year was his 76th career long ball at Target Field, but only his first of the season.
INDIANS: Francona said the team expects to activate OF Lonnie Chisenhall on Tuesday. Chisenhall has been on the DL since April 8 due to a strained right calf.
... OF Brandon Guyer (neck) remains on track to rejoin the team this week as well.
INDIANS: RHP Corey Kluber (8-2, 2.02 ERA) will face the Brewers on Tuesday night in Cleveland. Kluber has opened the season with 12 consecutive quality starts, the longest such streak for an Indians pitcher in 100 years.