The Guardians built a 7-0 lead Friday night, backed by a pair of home runs from Oscar Gonzalez, and Cleveland needed all seven of those runs to escape with a narrow 7-6 victory as the Minnesota Twins mounted a furious comeback over the final five frames.
Twins starting pitcher Dylan Bundy was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Guardians. After Amed Rosario and José Ramírez reached on back-to-back infield singles with one out in the first inning, Josh Naylor’s RBI single scored Rosario to give Cleveland the early lead. But it was Oscar Gonzalez who broke the game open with a laser shot to the stands in left field, homering off an 0-2 slider to make it a 4-0 score in favor of the Guardians.
But Gonzalez wasn’t done with Bundy. After Austin Hedges homered to lead off the fourth inning, Gonzalez crushed a two-run shot off another slider in the fifth inning, giving Cleveland a commanding 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, that lead became less commanding as the game progressed.
Even though the Guardians gifted him a 4-0 lead before he could even throw a pitch, Cal Quantrill rarely looked comfortable on the mound. There was a lot of traffic on the basepaths, though Quantrill wasn’t entirely to blame for that, as his infield defense frequently failed him. He battled through five innings, giving up nine hits, one walk, and two runs, only one of which was earned.
Quantrill had two runners on and no one out in the both the second and the fourth inning, but kept the Twins off the board both times. He ran out of magic with runners on first and second and one out in the fifth inning. Jose Miranda’s RBI single broke up the shutout. Quantrill managed to strike out Nick Gordon, needing only to retire Gio Urshela to escape without further damage. Urshela hit a sharp grounder to Ramírez at third, but his throw to second was off the mark and Andres Gimenez couldn’t get a glove on it. A run scored on the error and everyone else was safe.
Enyel De Los Santos took over for Quantrill in the sixth inning and recorded two quick outs before walking Sandy Leon. Unfortunately, that walk allowed the Twins to turn the lineup over and Luis Arraez took advantage, lining a double into the gap in right-center. Had it been anyone but Leon on first base, a run would have scored. De Los Santos managed to get two strikes on Carlos Correa before giving up a sharp grounder that slipped past a diving Josh Naylor. Leon scored and Oscar Gonzalez launched a throw home to try and catch Arraez, but the throw was off target. Arraez scored and suddenly Cleveland’s lead was cut to 7-4.
Nick Sandlin got the final out of the sixth inning before giving way to Trevor Stephan, who pitched a scoreless seventh. In the eighth inning, James Karinchak allowed a one-out single to pinch-hitter Kyle Garlick to bring Arraez to the plate. During the middle of the at-bat, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli asked the umpires to check Karinchak for foreign substances, which led to the bizarre scene of the home plate umpire running his hands through Karinchak’s hair. The umpire cleared Karinchak, who got Arraez to fly out, bringing Correa to the plate with two outs.
Unfortunately, Karinchak hung a curveball to Correa, who deposited it into the seats in left field to make it a one-run game. It snapped his streak of 24.2 scoreless innings, dating back to July 6.
Thankfully, Emmanuel Clase bounced back from Wednesday night’s rough outing and struck out a pair in a scoreless ninth inning to close it out for the Guardians.