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Santana’s 7th Inning HR Lifts the Indians to a Key 4-3 Win Over the Twins in Series Finale

CLEVELAND – The difference between six and a half games and eight and a half games on paper may be just two games, but mentally it seems like a lot more.

That’s what was at stake Sunday at Progressive Field for the Indians against the first-place Minnesota Twins, and thanks to a clutch hit by Carlos Santana in the 7th inning, the team avoided a bigger deficit than what they started the day with.

Santana’s two-out, two-strike homer was the difference as the Indians pulled out a much needed 4-3 win over the Twins, and will enter play Monday 6.5 out in the AL Central.

The homer came after a bizarre top of the 7th in which the replay officials in New York gave two questionable calls to the Twins, allowing them to rally from down 3-0 to tie the game at three.

One call which seemed obvious was originally ruled as a hit by pitch by home plate ump Ron Kulpa, but replays clearly showed that the ball hit the bottom of his bat.

The call was not overturned, and instead of a foul ball he was given first base. Later in the frame with the bases loaded and the Indians up 3-2, a ball appeared to come close to hitting Twins batter Jake Cave.

The Twins challenged the foul ball call, and again got the benefit of the doubt, as the officials in New York gave him first base feeling there was enough evidence to overturn the call.

In the end none of it mattered, as the Indians best hitter all year came through on an 0-2 pitch to put the team ahead for good, as the pen did a very good job in putting the team back in the win column.

Here’s three insights into what happened Sunday down at Progressive Field.

1. Santana in the Clutch

You don’t get much bigger than two outs and two strikes, but for Carlos Santana he’s been the best player on the roster all season, and he proved it again on Sunday.

Against Twins pitcher Trevor May, Santana got a hold of an 0-2 curveball and pushed it out of the park for his 21st homer of the year to put the team up by one in the eventual win.

Santana said after the game that he was just looking to put the ball in play, and he did a lot more than that at a time the team needed it most.

Lifetime May has thrown well against Santana, but even up in the count 0-2 he made the mistake which is rare, and Santana took advantage of it to get the win.

2. Bieber’s Day

Shane Bieber followed up his All-Star MVP outing on Tuesday with an impressive display on a day when the Indians needed it. The starter for the Tribe went 6.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with nine K’s.

He had allowed just three hits in the first six innings, but in the 7th had some control issues and then the two questionable calls by the replay officials in New York seemed to screw up the inning.

He showed poise against a very good lineup, and just like Tuesday against the best in baseball had great stuff all afternoon.

Hard to believe but he’s been by far the best Tribe starter all season long.

3. Pen Pitches In

After a tough two nights for the Indians bullpen, they did a great job getting some key outs late in the team’s 4-3 win.

First Oliver Perez got a key K in the 7th, and Adam Cimber not only closed the door on the inning, but also got out of the 8th win no issues to set up the 9th for Brad Hand.

Hand should have had a 1-2-3 inning, but Jason Kipnis booted what was a routine ground ball to start the frame, but it didn’t matter, as he wound up striking out the side for save 24.

The pen remains a surprising strength of the team, and they needed it on this day after a wild 7th that sent Shane Bieber to the showers.

Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE.

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