Normally a back-and-forth game is fun. But a back-and-forth game between two bad teams? Not so much. And make no mistake, the Cleveland Guardians and the Minnesota Twins are both bad. That much is clear after watching nearly four hours of these two teams in a tightly contested struggle that ended with the Twins prevailing, 5-4, in the tenth inning.
After the Guardians squandered their own scoring opportunity in the top of the tenth, the Twins went to work making the most of theirs. With Ryan Jeffers standing on second base to start the inning, Nick Wittgren gave up a single to Nick Gordon and intentionally walked Max Kepler to load the bases before Rob Refsnyder grounded into a 5-2 double play. With two outs, Jorge Polanco lined an RBI double into right field to give the Twins the walk-off win.
Cal Quantrill, who took the mound Monday night boasting a 0.95 ERA in the month of August, wasn’t quite his dominant self. His command came and went throughout the game, especially with his four-seam fastball, which was made clear after he left a 3-1 fastball over the heart of the plate to Max Kepler to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Kepler feasted on it, taking him deep to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. To his credit, Quantrill grinded out five innings of work, relying heavily on his slider. His final line was far from terrible: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Quantrill didn’t have his best command, but I would argue that the Guardians’ middle infielders had worse command of their mental faculties. In the third inning, the Twins were able to tie the score at 2-2 on a two-out Josh Donaldson RBI single because Amed Rosario wasn’t paying attention as Jorge Polanco was rounding third base, having sprinted from first. Rosario had to rush the throw and the one-hopper to Austin Hedges allowed Polanco to sneak past him for the score.
In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second and no one out, Andrelton Simmons grounded a double play ball to Rosario, but the Guardians’ shortstop could only get the out at second. The go-ahead run scored from third on the next play with another groundball to Rosario, but neither he nor Andres Gimenez was near second base. Gimenez had to sprint there and barehand the toss from Rosario to at least get the out at second.
But as I said at the beginning, it was a back-and-forth affair and the Guardians kept up their end of the bargain. Bradley Zimmer’s two-run bomb in the second inning erased the Twins’ early lead and gave the Guardians a 2-1 advantage. With one out in the fifth inning, Cleveland trailed 3-2 when Amed Rosario
tripled doubled and advanced to third on an error by Jake Cave in center field (according to the official scorer), scoring on a Jose Ramirez RBI single to even the score.
Austin Hedges came through in the clutch in the sixth inning, dropping a two-out RBI double near the foul line in left field to score Owen Miller and push the Guardians ahead, 4-3. Andres Gimenez tried to make it 5-3 but was thrown at out home trying to score from first. Unfortunately, Justin Garza surrendered a solo home run to Ryan Jeffers in the bottom of the sixth to even it up.