CLEVELAND (AP) — Brian Dozier’s three-run homer in the eighth inning pushed Minnesota to the brink of a playoff berth as the Twins rallied for an 8-6 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians lost for just the third time in 32 games.
Dozier connected for his 33rd homer against Bryan Shaw (4-6) as the Twins lowered their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to one.
Minnesota’s first trip to the postseason since 2010 will have to wait at least one more day as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Chicago White Sox 9-3 on Tuesday.
One-out singles in the eighth by Jason Castro and Robbie Grossman set the table for Dozier, who drove an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right, touching off a wild celebration in Minnesota’s dugout.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 38th homer and drove in four runs for the Indians, whose 29-3 mark over 32 games is the best in the majors since the 1947 New York Yankees did it.
After recently reeling off a record 22 straight wins, the Indians (98-59) are trying to hold onto the league’s best record as well as catch the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best overall mark.
Eddie Rosario homered and had three RBIs for the Twins, who lost 103 games last season and are now just a win away from extending a remarkable turnaround season.
Taylor Rogers (7-3), one of a club record 10 pitchers used by Twins manager Paul Monitor, got two outs in the seventh and Matt Belisle worked the ninth for his eighth save.
Minnesota is on the cusp of unexpected history.
In addition to making the postseason for the first time since 2010, the Twins, who went 59-103 in 2016, are close to becoming the first team to lose 100 games and make the playoffs the following year.
Granted, the second wild-card berth has made that more of a possibility, but it doesn’t diminish the accomplishment.
Minnesota is also seeking to become the 13th team, and first since the 2009 Seattle Mariners, to go from 100-plus losses to a winning record the following season.
Twins starter Bartolo Colon left after the first inning with an unspecified illness, forcing Molitor to go deep and deeper into his bullpen.
Rosario gave Minnesota 4-2 lead in the third with a two-run double before the Indians tied it in their half on RBI singles by Encarnacion and Jay Bruce.
Encarnacion broke the 100-RBI plateau in the first with a two-run single. The slugger has driven in at least 100 runs in five of the past six seasons, and in his first season with the Indians, he became just the fifth player in Cleveland history with at least 100 RBIs and 100 walks in the same season.
The Twins jumped on starter Josh Tomlin for two runs in the first on Jorge Polanco’s RBI groundout and Rosario’s 27th homer.
Twins: Molitor said 3B/DH Miguel Sano remains unlikely to play in the wild-card game if the Twins get there. He’s missed 36 games with a left shin injury.
Indians: Cleveland’s banged-up outfield is on the mend. LF Michael Brantley is expected to try and run later this week, an important step in his recovery from an ankle injury. At this point, Brantley’s chances of playing in the postseason appear slim. … RF Lonnie Chisenhall campaigned to play in the series opener after sitting out since Sept. 14 with a calf injury. … OF Brandon Guyer is expected to hit in a few days. He’s been out since the middle of the month with a wrist injury.
Danny Salazar, whose spot on Cleveland’s postseason roster isn’t guaranteed, starts against Minnesota’s Adalberto Mejia.
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