SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico-Just before Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi made his 88th pitch on Tuesday night, a throaty roar rolled across the packed stands at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in the top of the fifth inning.
Having let homeland hero Francisco Lindor out of a no-ball, two-strike hole, Odorizzi had to watch the Cleveland Indians shortstop loft a two-run homer over the wall in right field to break up a scoreless tie. That sent the crowd into an extended celebration as Lindor rounded the bases with all the jubilation this two-game Puerto Rico Series promised from the moment it was announced last June.
A curtain call in this 6-1 Indians victory followed moments later for the ever-popular Lindor, who gladly obliged after hearing his last name chanted by the sellout crowd of 19,516. Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley added solo homers to start the sixth and chase Odorizzi, who had allowed just one homer through his first 21 innings with the Twins.
Seven months after Hurricane Maria caused billions in devastation across the island, Major League Baseball returned to this U.S. territory for its first regular-season game since 2010. Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, who grew up 10 minutes away in Bayamon, is due to start Wednesday's series finale, but Round 1 belonged to the Indians and Lindor.
Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario, who grew up about 90 minutes south in the coastal town of Guayama, singled in four trips. He also heard his first name chanted throughout the night and joined Lindor in waving oversized Puerto Rican flags after former New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams played soulful guitar versions of both the Puerto Rican and U.S. national anthems.
With the loss the Twins, playing their first game in five days after a weekend blizzard in the Twin Cities, also slipped behind the Indians in the American League Central standings. The Indians were ostensibly rusty as well, having sat around since Friday due to weather issues in Cleveland.
Pitching for the first time in a week, Odorizzi extended his scoreless streak to seven innings since switching exclusively to the stretch midway through his start against the Houston Astros on April 10. He struck out the first two Indians batters in the fifth-giving him six strikeouts-before giving up a second straight double to Bradley Zimmer, the No. 9 hitter.
Zimmer reached third on a passed ball with Lindor batting, and that may have limited Odorizzi's options in terms of bouncing a curveball with a man on third.
Odorizzi (1-1) suffered his first loss with the Twins and his first three-homer game since June 25, 2016 at Baltimore. His career high for homers allowed remains four: Aug. 25, 2014, also at Baltimore.
Three of Odorizzi's final 10 pitches carried into the seats, all against hitters swinging from the left side on a sticky, 78-degree night. He left with an earned run average of 3.38.
Indians ace Corey Kluber, meanwhile, was his usual dominant self, slicing through the Twins on just three singles and two walks through six innings. Doubles by Max Kepler and Brian Dozier averted the shutout in the seventh.
Kluber (2-1) improved to 9-5 in 20 career starts against the Twins, but it was his first look at them since a 13-strikeout no-decision at Progressive Field last June 24.
With a pair of walks, Joe Mauer moved past Puerto Rico's Jose Cruz Sr. and Scott Rolen with 900 for his career. Mauer is now 174th all time and just three behind David Justice.
This was the 48th major league regular-season game played at Bithorn Stadium since 2001, when the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays played a single game. All but five of those came in 2003-04, the Montreal Expos' last two seasons before relocating to Washington, D.C.
The Florida Marlins and the New York Mets played a three-game series here in 2010, but that was the last time big-league clubs played here for real until Tuesday. In 2016 the Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates were scheduled to play a two-game series here in conjunction with Roberto Clemente Day but the games were sent back to Miami due to Zika virus concerns.