The Twins came to Cleveland needing to win, realistically, at least four of their five contests against the division-leading Guardians. Instead, the opposite happened, with Cleveland putting an exclamation point on a dominating series with an easy 11-4 win on Monday afternoon.
The Guardians wasted no time in jumping all over Twins ace Sonny Gray with a pair of base hits followed by a Josh Naylor three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
The Twins got their first hit of the game on a Gilberto Celestino single with two outs in the top of the second, but did no damage. The Guardians added another run on a Steven Kwan RBI triple in the top of the third Matt Wallner continued the solid start to his MLB career with a leadoff single in the third, but Luis Arraez banged into a 5-4-3 double play to end the frame.
Gray exited after two innings with what the Twins later described as right hamstring tightness. It’s too bad for a number of reasons, of course, but especially on the heels of throwing seven scoreless innings last time out and allowing only one earned run in six innings against the Yankees in the start prior to that.
The Twins bats finally came to life in the top of the fourth, courtesy of the usual suspects: a Carlos Correa single, followed by a Jose Miranda double and a Nick Gordon single plated the first run. Gio Urshela knocked in a run by hitting a ground ball to shortstop and getting to first base to avoid an inning-ending double play, so it was a 4-2 Cleveland lead after the fourth.
The Twins drew a run closer on a Nick Gordon solo homer in the top of the sixth inning before loading the bases on singles from Celestino and Jake Cave and a Wallner hit-by-pitch, forcing Guardians starter Cal Quantrill from the game. However, pinch-hitter Mark Contreras lined out to Naylor at first base, who doubled Wallner off the bag.
Things unraveled a bit for the Twins in the bottom of the inning as the Guardians cashed in another three-run home run, this time from Amed Rosario. It came off of Ronny Henriquez, who had mostly pitched well following Gray’s exit.
The Twins got one back in the seventh after an Arraez hit-by-pitch, a Correa single, and a Miranda double-play ball.
Emilio Pagan pitched a spotless bottom of the seventh (now you come through, Emilio...), but Jorge Lopez did not provide the same result in the eighth. Lopez gave up a leadoff home run, followed by two walks and three singles before being mercifully pulled in favor of ... infielder Jermaine Palacios.
(Side note: I’m not sure how many times a pitcher has been pulled mid-inning in favor of a position player, but ... it cannot have happened often over the course of major-league history. Anyone have an idea?)
Mercifully, the series came to an end. With the dust settled, the Twins now trail by seven games with 15 to go. They’re three games behind the second-place White Sox, so ... at least there’s still that to aim for?
- Frankly, it’s hard to imagine this series going any worse for the Twins. Not sure what else there is to say here.
- Six of the Twins’ final 15 games come against the Sox, so perhaps second place is still an option. As of this writing, the Twins do have a +11 run differential still, compared to the White Sox even number, so there’s that.
- Sandy Leon left the game due to an injured knee.
- Carlos Correa: 2-for-3, BB, R
- Nick Gordon: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
- Gilberto Celestino: 2-for-4
- Sonny Gray: 2 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, BB, K (unless the hammy injury caused the poor performance, I suppose, but that part is unclear)
- Jorge Lopez: 2⁄3 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 2 BB