With Triston McKenzie back on the mound and a rough looking lineup for the Twins, offense was always going to be hard to come by. It always is for the Guardians, but they managed to squeak out just a bit more.
Joe Ryan was excellent, as he almost always has been this season, cruising through the six innings while only allowing a single hit. Much like Sonny Gray last night, Ryan ran into trouble in the 7th when he walked José Ramírez with two outs and gave up a double off the wall in right to Josh Naylor, allowing Cleveland to score their first run. Caleb Thielbar was brought in to face Andres Giménez, who followed with a triple off the wall before Thielbar was able to get out of the inning. José de León and Griffin Jax shut down the 8th and 9th innings, closing the book on the Guardians’ offense.
Despite the blip in the 7th, the pitching did plenty to win this game, but the offense couldn’t back it up. McKenzie looked every bit of his 2022 self in his first start of the season, striking out 10 Twins in five innings on just 79 pitches. The lone run came in the 8th when surprise lineup fixture Willi Castro hit a huge homer to lead off the inning against Enyel De Los Santos. Michael A. Taylor also managed to hit a ground rule double, but was left stranded at third base after one of the scariest recent plays I’ve seen on a baseball field.
With two outs, Royce Lewis hit a ground ball to third base and was running hard to try to beat out the throw. José Ramírez threw the ball a bit off line toward first while Gabriel Arias, the Guardians’ first baseman in this game, fielded the ball poorly, putting his body up the line and into foul territory, causing Lewis to fall over him and land awkwardly on his head and neck. Initial reports from the Twins are that Lewis avoided serious injury, but he will continue to be evaluated for any concussion symptoms that pop up.
Rocco Baldelli said the early indications are that Royce Lewis likely avoided a serious injury. No concussion.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) June 4, 2023
I won’t link to the play, mostly because it makes me feel sick to see someone land like that on their head, but it should be noted just how poorly the first baseman, Arias, fielded the throw. It wasn’t anything dirty, and by no stretch was he trying to injure someone, but lunging up the line like that is not good defensive footwork. It’s not necessarily even Arias’ fault. He’s a shortstop by trade, not a first baseman, with 442 career games in affiliated baseball at short, while just 30 at first. But like Luis Arraez last year for the Twins, that’s where Arias has been needed for the Guardians.
There was, however, a bit more baseball to be played. The Twins managed to scrounge up a threat against Emmanuel Clase with runners on first and third, but Castro swung at three pitches in the dirt to end the game.
With it all said and done, the Twins managed to split the series against the Guardians with many frankly bad lineups. The off day tomorrow comes at a great time with Buxton, Correa, and Lewis all nursing injuries, and Alex Kirilloff missing today’s game with an illness. The Twins will need all four of those players healthy and hitting if they want to compete with the Rays and Blue Jays next week.
Joe Ryan: 6.2 IP, 4 K, 2 R
Michael A. Taylor: 3-3, 2B, 2 SB
The rest of the lineup besides Taylor: 2-29, 16 K
Comment of the Game goes to James for finally fixing the Twins’ one weakness.