Guardians score 4 in 9th to rally past Twins 11-10, take one-game lead in Central
MINNEAPOLIS — Oscar Gonzalez tied the game with a two-run single and scored on Owen Miller’s go-ahead sacrifice fly as the Cleveland Guardians rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to stun the Minnesota Twins 11-10 on Wednesday night.
Gonzalez homered earlier and finished with four RBIs for the surging Guardians, who have won the first two in a three-game series to take a one-game lead over Minnesota atop the AL Central. The teams also meet five times in four days next week in Cleveland.
“Crazy, crazy game,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said.
Carlos Correa hit two home runs for the Twins, who have lost four of five and are 8-11 in June. Max Kepler and Gio Urshela also went deep for Minnesota.
Sam Hentges (1-0) tossed a scoreless eighth and Emmanuel Clase earned his 17th save with a 1-2-3 ninth for Cleveland, which has won 11 of 13 and is 17-4 since May 30. The young Guardians also won their seventh straight series.
Clase has six saves as the Guardians have started 7-1 on their nine-game road trip.
“I feel we’re a special team,” shortstop Amed Rosario said through a translator.
With the Guardians down by three, Rosario and Jose Ramirez singled to start the ninth before an RBI double by Josh Naylor off Emilio Pagan made it 10-8.
Francona said had it been Byron Buxton in center field, not Gilberto Celestino, the ball probably would have been caught.
“(Buxton) was wanting to play, but he couldn’t move around well enough to play today,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, referencing a sore knee.
Gonzalez came through with a two-run single off Griffin Jax and reached second on the throw. Gonzalez moved to third on Andres Gimenez’s sacrifice before Miller lofted a fly ball to left-center with plenty of distance as Cleveland completed its latest thrilling comeback.
Miller leads the American League with eight sacrifice flies.
Jax (4-2) took the loss for the second straight night.
Rosario tied a season high with four hits. Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to give the Guardians a 7-6 lead in the seventh.
Urshela, who was a double shy of the cycle, hit a three-run homer as part of a four-run seventh for a 10-7 Minnesota lead. All the runs scored with two outs.
“There’s no one in our clubhouse that’s not (ticked) off right now,” Baldelli said. “We should be a little (ticked) off based on the way we’ve played over the last couple of days and just the inability to get the job done.”
Spotted a 5-1 lead, Twins starter Sonny Gray gave up a home run to Austin Hedges to start the fifth. Three straight singles — with Gray late to cover first base on the last one — coupled with an error by Nick Gordon in center ended Gray’s outing. A balk by Caleb Thielbar plated a run to get the Guardians within 5-4.
Making his second start after missing 16 games with a right pectoral strain, Gray allowed season highs with four earned runs on eight hits in four innings. He had given up nine hits and one earned run over 18 innings in his previous three starts.
Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie entered with an opponents’ batting average of .185, tied with Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan for second-best in the majors behind the .150 of the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin.
Correa didn’t seem to care.
His first-inning home run landed in the second deck in left field, and his third-inning shot was to straightaway center for a 3-1 lead.
Matching his shortest start of the season, McKenzie allowed nine hits and six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Guardians: DH Franmil Reyes, who returned Tuesday after missing 23 games with right hamstring tightness, did not play. He is expected to be in Thursday’s lineup.
Twins: RHP Bailey Ober (right groin strain) said his past four or five catch days have gone well and he hopes to throw off a mound later this week. … 1B Miguel Sanó, out since surgery in early May to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, has moved along in his running progression, started hitting and should take live batting practice next week. … RHP Randy Dobnak (right middle finger strain) recently threw a 15-pitch, fastball-only bullpen at about 75% and has played catch at 120 feet.
The starters for Thursday afternoon’s series finale are scheduled to be RHP Zach Plesac (2-4, 4.41 ERA) for Cleveland and LHP Devin Smeltzer (3-1, 3.52) for Minnesota.