After the all-out offensive war last night, the Twins and Guardians toned things down this evening, squeezing out a 3-2, 10-inning battle that ultimately tipped in favor of Cleveland.
Devin Smeltzer delivered just about the best spot start you could ask for. Across 77 pitches (50 of which found the strike zone) and five innings of work, Smeltzer held the Guardians to three hits and just one earned run. A nifty 5-4-3 double play helped close out the third inning after a leadoff walk threatened to produce a rally for Cleveland; Smeltzer’s last two innings saw only one more visiting batter reach.
The only run allowed during Devin’s time on the mound came in the second — a leadoff double and subsequent wild pitch put the game’s first run at third base, and Franmil Reyes’ one-out single to center edged Cleveland into the lead.
A one-run lead would be more than enough for Shane Bieber, who seemed in solid form tonight despite a lower-than-usual strike percentage. Bieber would toss six innings and strike out seven Twins, giving up one run on a fourth-inning solo shot courtesy of Gio Urshela.
Although Bieber got his results, Minnesota made an effort to get rallies going. The fifth inning began with a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation, one that was quickly dispelled after Cleveland was handed one heck of an excuse-me double play:
The Twins failed to score in the inning, a crucial missed opportunity. As a result, Bieber was able to head back out in the sixth to add another shutout frame to his ledger. From here, it was a b̷̛̜̤͌̒̉͗̀̎͛̀̇̕͝͝ữ̷͍̳͙͈̗̟̥͍̎͛̇l̸̨̩̼̲͙̯̣̘̙͙͕̪͚̞̓̄̎̕ļ̴̨̥̭̞͈̃̂̏͑͠ṕ̴̨̮̦̹͍̟̯̳͕̗͉͔͍͉͂̿͛e̵͖̞̭̼̟̺̼͇̦̾̄̒̿̅̀͝͠n̴͔̞̳̼͇̮̞̱͇̰͗̓̈͌̓ battle — Trevor Stephan came in for Clevelandl̴̢̢͍̬̤͑̄̄͊͑͌͘a̶̧̘̪̘̖̖̣͖̟̦̩̬̒̉̓̒̍̄͂n̸̨͓̱͕̣͍̋̇͆̃͆̊͜d̷̮̥̦̱̋̂̄̒̎͂̔͊͐̊̾̏̀̒̋,̶̛̼͇̙͙͚̲̙͎̺̻̖́̆̑̎̄͂̓̈́̇̉̓͘͘͝ ̵̡̩͈̺̙̘̘̗̻̤̒̂͂̈́̑̔͑̿w̴͉̬͍͓̮̹̱̟̑̑̈́̽͐̅̐͛͝ͅh̸̛̛̼̗̟͚͍͔̓̀̒͑̒̅͌̽̾̏͘̚i̶̱͚̣̯̗̗̎l̶̨̛͙̻̤̟͉̦̝̼̮̰̬̝̎̈́̑̌̆͗̔̈́̔̏̒̚͝͝ͅȩ̸̧̛̪̫̩͍͙͎̙̥̯̦̪̠̈́́̇̐̍̌̾̋co’s Magical Arm Barn produced Caleb Thielbar, Tyler Duffey, Joe Smith, and eventually everyone’s favorite can of instant palm sweat, E̶͉͒m̶̨͇͈̪̠̫̞̗̔̋̊̈́̄̊̓̾ȉ̶̘̝̈́̒͊̓͐l̴̢̙̳̩͔̩̪̍̑̋͗̽̎͝ó̶̢̳̼̳͉̪͕̞͚̯͋́͑͗̿͂́̀̆̿͘̚͝ ̵̦̣̪̬͚͛̀̍̊̾͒̈́́̅̈́̈́͘͘͝͠Ṗ̷̩̭͉̻̮̙̀̄̃̈̈̌̊͋͛͝͝ͅą̷̡͖̫̼͇͓̞́͌̚͠ͅg̶̢̺̥̱̦̦̭̰̤̜̬̳̥̠̎̏͐̃̍̌͊̆̆̑̅̈́̂ạ̸̡̠̱͌͑͊͂̐̈̉̒ņ̷̥͉̻̙̦̥̩͙̜͉̍͂͜.̴̡̧̗̹̜͇͉̘͚̬̣̖̇̓͝
Stephan dealt into the eighth for his second inning of work, until a two-out Nick Gordon single forced the hand of Cleveland’s pitching manager, who sent Nick Sandlin into the game mound to face Gilberto Celestino. Gordon swiped a bag on an 0-2 pitch, but another tapper back to the pitcher ended the threat.
Jhoan Duran was next to trot in from left-center — his first back-to-back experience as a pitcher. He induced two teensy little doink jobs that barely left home plate, then struck out his third hitter to send the game to the home ninth, still tied at 1-1.
As Dick Bremer noted, the Guardians fancy themselves their own Duran, in the person of Emmanuel Clase, the hard-throwing young righty closer — however, Sandlin (having only needed five pitches in the eighth) was asked to resume his duties in a tied ballgame. He’d work around a single from Luis Arraez, sending a Twins game to extra innings for just the second time this year.
With Jharel Cotton the next man up, Andres Gimenez smacked a go-ahead drive off the wall in right field, slamming into Jose Miranda on his way through the baseline. After Gimenez was awarded second base following the play, Rocco Baldelli came out for a conversation and, in his always-subdued fashion, an ejection.
With a 2-1 Guardian lead, Cotton had to go back to work to keep the lead as tight as possible. He went strikeout-popout to record two outs, but a base hit (and inning-ending rundown between first and second) would mean it was 3-1 Cleveland heading into the bottom half.
The Manfred Man meant that the tying run was in the box for Minnesota right out of the gate, but the save situation also meant that it was finally Clase’s time to shine. He got a grounder for out number one, but a hustle infield hit for Gio Urshela tightened things up to 3-2.
With the tying run on first, the Twins pinch-ran Mark Contreras to try and set up a huge hit from Jose Miranda. Miranda checked a roller to the right side to move Contreras into scoring position, now setting up Nick Gordon for the biggest hit of the night.
Gordon, already 2-for-4 with an extra-base hit and a steal on the night, strode into the box. He fought through a Clase at-bat about as well as he could have been expected to, but finally swung through 99 over the plate to end the game. Brutal!
The Twins had their opportunities in this one, but ultimately it’s Cleveland who scores the win and climbs back to .500. They join the White Sox back at a 16-16 record. The Twins will look to win the series on Sunday afternoon and push them back to a losing margin.
Hope to see you there...thanks for joining us tonight!
SP Devin Smeltzer (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K)
Non-Cotton Bullpen (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
3B Gio Urshela (2-for-5, R, 2 RBI, HR)
LF Nick Gordon (2-for-5, 2B, SB)
Jharel-Cotton Bullpen (1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, K)
RF Max Kepler (0-for-4, 2 K, 5 LOB)
1B Jose Miranda (0-for-5, 2 K, 3 LOB)
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
Ninety-five comments tonight. You’ll be e-mailed your performance reviews individually so that you can bring your comments up to standard for tomorrow. Thanks!