Aaron Civale was solid in his return to the mound Friday night, but the Cleveland Guardians’ league-worst lineup offered no run support in a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins’ lone run of the game came in the seventh inning against Nick Sandlin, who didn’t allow an earned run in the entire month of May. He is not off to the best start in June after surrendering a two-out RBI double to Jorge Polanco to break a scoreless tie and give Minnesota the lead.
It was the only run the Twins needed thanks in large part to Minnesota starting pitcher Bailey Ober, who has yet to even break a sweat against Cleveland this season. In two starts against the Guardians, he has pitched 13 scoreless innings. Friday night, Ober only allowed four hits.
Civale did his part to keep the Guardians in the game. Making his first start with the big league club since April 7, the right-hander pitched five scoreless innings. He had to work around a fair bit of traffic, allowing four hits and two walks, but kept the Twins off the board using his full pitch arsenal. Civale avoided hard contact most of the night, especially against his cutter.
Cleveland had plenty of opportunities to provide him the bare minimum amount of run support, but finished the game 0-for-8 with a runner in scoring position. Their last gasp was in the eighth inning, when Steven Kwan led off with a double. But after Tyler Freeman flied out to left, Minnesota brought in flamethrower Jhoan Duran to secure the final five outs of the game. And that he did, averaging 103.3 mph on his four-seam fastball and recording three strikeouts.
With back-to-back losses to the division leader, Cleveland has squandered any chance of gaining ground on the Twins in this series. Now they can only hope to split the series or at a minimum avoid a sweep. But they’re certainly going to need to score runs to do that.