Guardians 11, Twins 10: Another Bullpen Meltdown Wastes a Great Offensive Night – Twins

Box Score
Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.0 IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 0BB, 4K (85 pitches, 59 strikes, 69.4%)
Home Runs: Carlos Correa, 2 (7), Max Kepler (7), Gio Urshela (6)
Bottom 3 WPA: Jharel Cotton (-.476), Griffin Jax (-.453), Emilio Pagan (-.285)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

With four combined runs scored by both teams in the first three innings, this game was off to a busy start. The Twins offense went off very early, with Carlos Correa hitting a solo home run in the game’s second at-bat. Then, in the second inning, Minnesota added another run after Gio Urshela and Trevor Larnach hit back-to-back singles, allowing Ryan Jeffers to push Urshela across the plate with a double on a liner to deep left.

Cleveland nearly gained some momentum at the top of the third. Sonny Gray had retired seven of the first eight batters he faced, including a stretch of six consecutive. But Myles Straw hit a one-out double shortly before Steven Kwan hit an RBI triple to bring him home, cut the Twins’ lead in half, and still pose a threat at third base. Despite the two extra-base hits, Gray was able to cool down and remove the next two batters to end the inning.

The Twins’ response was quick, as Correa saw three pitches to lead off the bottom of the third and crushed his second dinger of the night, making it 3-1 for Minnesota. This was Correa’s first multi-home run game of the season, the 11th in his career. Following the home run, Max Kepler drew a walk, but the Twins couldn’t take advantage and settled for the one run.

Twins extend the lead to four, but Gray can’t hold on to it
Minnesota was able to extend their lead a bit more in the bottom of the fourth inning after Gray delivered another scoreless frame. Urshela led off the inning with a triple hustle that Straw couldn’t field. Jeffers followed him with a pretty RBI bunt that Guardians starter Triston McKenzie couldn’t glove, scoring Minnesota’s fourth run.

Jeffers himself got to third base on a Nick Gordon single. Batting next, Luis Arraez, a 0-for-9 career against McKenzie, couldn’t get his first hit against the Cleveland starter, but he hit a sac-fly deep enough to bring Jeffers home, making it 5-1 for Minnesota.

After four solid innings from Gray, the Cleveland offense started a rally in the fifth and jumped right back into this game. Austin Hedges hit a leadoff home run to cut the lead down to three. Then, Straw, Kwan, and Amed Rosario hit three consecutive singles off Gray, adding another run and ending his start.

Gray departed the game leaving two runners on and no outs for Caleb Thielbar. Kwan scored from third on a one-out balk from Thielbar, making it a one-run game, but the Twins’ reliever managed to strike out the next two batters to brilliantly get out of an inherited jam and put an end to the Cleveland ( first) rally.

Cleveland rallies again, snatches the lead for the first time
The long ball continued to work for the Twins, as they hit their third home run of the night. Kepler punished McKenzie’s second pitch of the fifth inning to hit a leadoff dong that gave Minnesota some breathing room.

Thielbar and Joe Smith combined to pitch a scoreless sixth, but it wasn’t without a fight from the Guardians, who managed to produce a couple of baserunners before Smith could get the final two outs. For the first time in the game, in the bottom of the sixth, the offense didn’t score a run and that would prove costly later on.

Jharel Cotton took the mound in the seventh and after three consecutive scoreless appearances (including one last night), he was ambushed, allowing Cleveland to take the lead for the first time in the game. Rosario hit a leadoff home run to cut the Twins’ lead down to one, then, shortly after Jose Ramirez was hit by a pitch, Oscar Gonzalez hit a two-run bomb to the left, making it 7-6 for Cleveland.

Twins rally back for four runs in the seventh, but the bullpen blows the lead in the ninth
The Twins offense didn’t score in the sixth when Minnesota had a two-run lead, but they did when it mattered the most. Relievers Anthony Gose and Anthony Castro needed only six pitches to get the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Minnesota’s bats weren’t done.

Kepler drew his second walk of the night, then moved to third on a Gary Sanchez single. A mound visit didn’t help Castro, as he gave up a game-tying RBI single to Alex Kirilloff, who ended up on second after Sanchez hustled to third, nearly getting tagged by Ramirez. With a tied ballgame, Urshela gave the Twins some much-needed insurance by hitting a three-run bomb to center.

Emilio Pagan was trying to redeem himself from the rough outing he had the night before when he blew the lead by giving up a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth. Tonight, he flawlessly struck out the side in the eighth, protecting the Twins’ lead. However, as he was brought back for the ninth, things got ugly for him. Rosario, Ramirez, and Josh Naylor got three consecutive hits against him to open the inning – the latter an RBI double to make it 10-8 Minnesota.

Rocco Baldelli removed Pagan from the game immediately, bringing Griffin Jax into the game. With no outs and with runners on second and third, Jax got ahead in the count against González, but a bloop single to center was enough to score both runners. González advanced to third on a sac bunt and scored right after that on an Owen Miller sac-fly that gave the Guardians the lead, 11-10. A 1-2-3 effort by reliever Emmanuel Clase secured the win for the Guardians at the bottom of the ninth.

What’s Next?
Tomorrow at 12:10 pm CDT these two teams get back on the field with Minnesota trying to prevent a series sweep. The Twins turn to Devin Smeltzer (3.52 ERA) to start the game, while Cleveland brings Zach Plesac (4.41 ERA) to the mound.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Jax 0 16 0 27 7 50
Cotton 10 0 0 11 28 49
Thielbar 0 31 0 0 15 46
Pagan 0 0 0 17 24 41
Duran 0 0 0 27 0 27
Duffey 0 25 0 0 0 25
Smith 0 0 0 0 21 21
Thornburg 0 0 0 0 0 0

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