The Cleveland Guardians spoiled Aaron Civale’s return to the mound, mustering all of four hits and failing to plate a single run in a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Civale, making his first big league start since June 21, was on a pitch count, but he made the most of the 78 pitches he was afforded. He limited the Twins to three hits, one walk, and one earned run over 4.2 innings of work. Civale used all six pitches in arsenal to rack up six strikeouts, his curveball proving to be his most effective pitch (45% CSW%) and his four-seam fastball his least effective (8% CSW%). After Max Kepler drew a leadoff walk in the fifth inning and then stole second, Civale nearly stranded him, striking out the next two batters. But an RBI single up the middle by Andrelton Simmons broke up the shutout and gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
With John Gant on the mound for the Twins, the Guardians should have blown the game open in the third inning. Myles Straw and Andrés Giménez hit back-to-back two-out singles to put runners on first and second and bring José Ramírez to the plate. Ramírez proceeded to put together the most impressive at-bat of the night, fouling of six pitches and seeing 11 pitches before loading the bases with a walk. But Franmil Reyes swung at a 3-1 sinker above the belt that ended up in Byron Buxton’s glove at the warning track to end the inning, stranding all three baserunners.
Gant threw his sinker for strikes and flummoxed Cleveland hitters with his changeup, which registered eight whiffs and finished the night with a 37% CSW% after accounting for 31% of his pitches. The Guardians were able to draw more walks (4) than hits (3) against Gant, racking up seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings. Once he hit the showers, Minnesota was able to use four relievers to maintain the shutout over the final four frames.
Cleveland threatened to score in the eighth inning after José Ramírez reached on an infield single and Oscar Mercado launched a two-out double off the wall in left field, but Yu Chang struck out to end the inning. The Guardians failed to score in the ninth, completing the shutout.
Not that it mattered, but the Twins were able to add an insurance run thanks to a solo home run by Brent Rooker in the seventh inning against Guardians reliever Alex Young. Blake Parker then gave up an RBI triple to Luis Arraez in the top of the ninth to make it 3-0.