Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton lead Twins over Cleveland

Everyone in the Twins’ clubhouse knows what second baseman Jorge Polanco can do when he’s healthy.

Often during the previous two seasons, he wasn’t, dealing with ankle issues that twice required offseason surgery. But he has been healthy for nearly the entirety of this year, and so when he got off to a somewhat slow start to the year, acting manager Bill Evers said he was surprised to see it.

Nobody is surprised by what he’s doing now. Exceptional performance is just what the Twins have become accustomed to from their second baseman, and Monday’s performance was perhaps his most exceptional this season. Polanco went 4 for 5 with four extra-base hits in the Twins’ 5-2 win over Cleveland on Monday night at Progressive Field.

“Tonight was special,” said Evers, filling in for manager Rocco Baldelli, who is on paternity leave. “Three doubles and a home run. It doesn’t get any better than that. What more can you say about a guy that’s really on fire right now?”

The Twins (60-77) are just as aware of what a healthy Byron Buxton can do. And Monday, the two of them teamed up to lead the offense, beginning the game with a pair of hits to help spur the team’s victory over the Indians (68-67).

By the time Cleveland starter Logan Allen threw his sixth pitch of the night, the Twins had already collected three hits and a pair of runs, with Rob Refsnyder’s single bringing home both Buxton and Polanco.

Buxton, who led off the game with an infield single, had two hits on the night, the other a fifth inning solo home run. It comes after collecting two hits the day prior. Before Sunday, he was 2 for 30 since his return from the injured list.

“I feel a little more comfortable in the batter’s box, and I can definitely tell my at-bats are starting to get a little better, starting to compete a little bit better in the batter’s box and feel my way out,” Buxton said on Bally Sports North. “It’s just the process of battling and coming back.”

Add a healthy, comfortable Buxton into a lineup that includes a healthy Polanco hitting nearly everything in sight, and it certainly provided a recipe for success for the Twins on Monday.

“I was seeing the ball good, and I was on time on the fastball,” Polanco said. “I’m reacting to the breaking ball. I think that helped me a lot today.”

Atop the Twins’ lineup, the duo scored four of the team’s five runs in support of a tandem effort by Bailey Ober and Michael Pineda. As a way to limit Ober’s innings and ease Pineda back in after a stint on the injured list with a strained oblique, the Twins went into Monday’s game planning on having the duo cover six or seven innings.

The pair executed the plan flawlessly.

Ober threw four innings, three of them scoreless before giving up a two-run home run to Franmil Reyes in the fourth. Pineda followed, tossing three scoreless innings, picking up the win and bridging the gap to the back end of the bullpen, where the Twins got clean innings from Tyler Duffey and Alexander Colomé.

“It worked out just like we had planned and scripted it out,” Evers said.  “Bailey threw the ball well, and Michael came in right behind him and did what he needed to do. I think the guys came out really aggressive swinging the bat, and that set the tone. Scoring two in the first let everybody settle down into their rhythm.”

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