The Guardians were outscored 28-9 through the first two games of a critical series against the Minnesota Twins, and entered today's finale seven games behind in the Central. In addition, with the season series tied at six, the Guardians needed to win to clinch a tiebreaker over the division-leading Twins. Today, despite their lowest scoring output, two runs was enough as the Guardians (67-73) led after the second inning and doubled up the Twins (73-67), 2-1 to avoid an eight-game hole and with 22 games remaining.
Preceding the Guardians' lead, the Twins threatened with two outs in the second inning with a runner on second base. Ryan Jeffers hit a sinking liner to centerfield, but Myles Straw made a diving catch in centerfield to preserve the scoreless frame. Then in the home-half, Andres Gimenez hit a leadoff double, setting up the game's first run on Will Brennan's RBI single, and putting the Guardians ahead 1-0 - one inning before the tarp rolled onto the field and the series finale entered a one-hour, six-minute rain delay. Nevertheless, Gimenez and Brennan stayed hot and struck again in the fourth. After Gimenez singled with one out and stole second base, he scored on Will Brennan's two-out double, extending the lead to 2-0.
The Twins cut the lead in half in the fifth after Willi Castro drew a leadoff walk and stole second base, Andrew Stevenson drove him on a one-out single. However, the lineup that scored 28 runs across the previous two contests could not muster any more damage as the Guardians prevailed for the final tally. Although both bullpens dominated, each allowing one hit and one walk, Emmanuel Clase retired the Twins in order for his 38th save, notching Gavin Williams the win and Joe Ryan the loss.
Myles Straw made a diving catch with two outs in the second inning to prevent Minnesota from taking an early lead.
The Guardians cut their deficit in the AL Central to six games, but more importantly clinched the season series, 7-6, and a crucial tiebreaker should these teams finish atop the division. The Guardians' elimination number remains at 17. That means through the end of the regular season any combination of 17 Twins wins and/or Guardians losses would mathematically eliminate Cleveland from winning the AL Central.
The Guardians will begin a seven-game west coast trip tomorrow with the first of four against Los Angeles Angels (64-75) at 9:38 PM. Cal Quantrill is scheduled to make his second start since returning from the injured list, and will go for his second win this season against the Angels. The Guardians' won two out of three games against the Angels in their first series (in Cleveland), and notably Josh Naylor homered in the eighth inning of each game.