The Minnesota Twins lost two more teammates to trades before the game.
They finished the night, at least, in a better mood.
Mitch Garver drove in the winning run with a one-out double in the ninth inning, capping a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night and triggering the familiar bucket-dumping celebration in the infield after he rounded second base.
The Twins had more cold water poured on their disappointing season in the afternoon, when reliever Zach Duke and starter Lance Lynn were sent away in separate deals for more minor leaguers.
“That was a big win for us as a group, as a group of brothers,” Garver said. “We lost some key guys to our team this year, and to come back and kind of put that one away and finish that game like is pretty exciting for us.”
Jose Ramirez hit two home runs for Cleveland to match Boston's J.D. Martinez for the most in the majors with 32, but the Indians fell to 3-7 against the Twins this season. The Twins still trail by eight games in the AL Central, not nearly close enough for the front office to halt the sell-off two-thirds of the way through this disappointing season. Eduardo Escobar, who thrived at third base while Miguel Sano was out, and reliever Ryan Pressly were dealt for prospects on Friday.
“It's really good way to start the series, especially with all the tumultuous things that have been going on,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Sano, who hit an RBI single earlier and went 2 for 3 for his first hits in the majors since June 12, drew a walk to start the ninth against Neil Ramirez (0-1). Jake Cave advanced pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza with a sacrifice bunt. Then Garver delivered the deep drive to left-center field.
Fernando Rodney (3-2) pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out Yonder Alonso with runners at second and third. He struck out Ramirez two batters before that.
Twins starter Ervin Santana got one out in the sixth before being removed, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks, and gave up both of Ramirez's homers before another solo shot by Yan Gomes that gave the Indians a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
Jorge Polanco's two-run single in the bottom of that inning against Shane Bieber put the Twins in front, but Santana lost the lead again when Cave made an ill-advised dive for a sinking line drive by Alonso to center field. That went for an RBI double to score Edwin Encarnacion from first base with one out.
Bieber allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, a sharp improvement from the seven runs in 1 2/3 innings he gave up to Pittsburgh last week.
“I felt more like myself tonight,” Bieber said.
SLUMP? NOT SO MUCH
Ramirez hit his 31st homer on a full count in the first inning against Santana, a no-doubt drive to right field that stopped a hitless stretch of 17 at-bats. Ramirez had 11 walks during those seven-plus games.
“Sometimes the pitchers are throwing you a lot of strikes. Sometimes they're throwing balls. So I just stay focused on trying to get my pitches and, yeah, I feel normal,” Ramirez said through a translator.
The Twins announced Adalberto Mejia will start on Wednesday afternoon, taking Lynn's place in the rotation. Duke's departure opened a spot in the bullpen for Addison Reed, who was returned from his rehab assignment.
Indians: OF Greg Allen was called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game, and RHP Adam Plutko was sent down. With Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer all out with injuries, Allen will help fortify the unsettled CF and RF spots with Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer and Melky Cabrera.
Twins: Sano, who missed a month with hamstring trouble and after struggling upon his return was sent to the minor leagues for what turned out to be a six-week stay for conditioning and refining his swing, went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in his first two games back over the weekend.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (9-6, 2.32 ERA) will pitch on Tuesday night. The All-Star kept up his career-best season against Pittsburgh last week by striking out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings while surrendering only two hits.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (5-7, 3.42), who held MLB batting leader Boston to one run on four hits over eight innings last week, will take the mound for the middle game of the series.