Saturday’s night game seemed to be following a familiar script, as the Minnesota Twins erased a 3-0 deficit late in the game against the Cleveland Guardians’ bullpen.
That is, until Steven Kwan decided to go off script.
With two outs in the seventh inning, Kwan got a hanging slider from Twins reliever Jorge Alcala and launched it over the wall in right-center to plate the go-ahead run.
It was his first home run of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Guardians, who managed to hold on for a 4-3 victory over the Twins.
Feared power hitter Steven Kwan.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/RJhIa4OMUO— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) May 7, 2023
With Sonny Gray on the mound for the Twins, Cleveland’s much-maligned lineup had the daunting task of facing a starting pitcher who had only surrendered three earned runs in 35 innings pitched this season. And for the first three innings, it was business as usual for Gray, as the only baserunner he allowed was Josh Bell, who reached on an infield single.
But the fourth inning was the worst inning of Gray’s season.
You knew he was in trouble when he issued a four-pitch walk to Amed Rosario to lead off the inning. Gray fell behind 3-0 against José Ramírez, who reached on an infield single that allowed Rosario to advance to third. Josh Naylor then hit a grounder to Jose Miranda, who couldn’t field the ball cleanly and ended up falling down. Rosario scored on the play and Ramírez took advantage of Miranda’s misplay, sprinting for third base and narrowly avoiding a tag.
The 1-0 lead turned into a 2-0 land thanks to Josh Bell’s RBI single on a sharp liner to left field, scoring Ramirez from third. After an Andrés Giménez lineout, a Gabriel Arias walk, and a Mike Zunino strikeout, Myles Straw stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He worked a seven-pitch walk to force another run in, extending the lead to 3-0.
Gray needed 39 pitches to get through the inning.
We scored some runs.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/WgAsyJ0gXm— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) May 6, 2023
Logan Allen, getting the start opposite Gray, was solid in his third career start. He pitched five scoreless innings before giving up a two-run homer to Max Kepler, who continues to annoy Guardians fans everywhere with his uncanny ability to hit like Ted Williams at Progressive Field. Allen gave up seven hits, two walks, and two earned runs over 5.2 innings of work.
Unfortunately, Trevor Stephan served up a game-tying solo home run to Carlos Correa with two outs in the seventh inning. Kwan’s game-winning blast came in the bottom of the inning, leaving it in the hands of Stephan, Sam Hentges (making his first appearance of the season), and Emmanuel Clase to sew up the final two frames and secure the victory.