When Gavin Williams didn’t return to the mound for the second inning of Tuesday’s night game, it seemed to spell disaster for the Cleveland Guardians. But the bullpen limited the Minnesota Twins to two runs over the final eight frames, paving the way for a 4-2 win over their AL Central rival.
After walking Edouard Julien on four pitches to open the game, Williams slipped and fell awkwardly while delivering a first-pitch changeup the very next at-bat. He finished the inning, managing to retire Royce Lewis with the bases loaded — no small feat, as the Guardians know all too well by now — before being removed from the game due to right knee soreness.
Cleveland needed five relievers to cover the remaining eight innings. Hunter Gaddis pitched three innings, only surrendering a solo home run to Lewis. Sam Hentges took over in the fifth inning and was sharp for two scoreless innings, striking out four. Trevor Stephan and Nick Sandlin each contributed an inning of work to bridge the gap to Emmanuel Clase in the ninth.
Clase gave up a one-out solo shot to Michael A. Taylor but closed it out from there.
Bo Naylor homered in his third straight start, taking Minnesota starting pitcher Pablo Lopez the distance in the second inning to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead. Cleveland was reasonably successful against Lopez, racking up eight hits and three walks over six innings, though they left a fair number of baserunners stranded. The Guardians’ second run off him came on a “wild pitch” with two outs in the third inning, scoring Jose Ramirez from third base.
Naylor got things started again for Cleveland with a leadoff single in the fourth inning. Gabriel Arias followed with a walk and Steven Kwan reached on an infield single to load the bases. Kole Calhoun’s RBI groundout made it a 3-0 advantage for the Guardians.
The seventh inning was a big inning for Carlos Correa. After Ramon Laureano reached on an infield single with one out, Andres Gimenez hit a pop-up to Correa. Bizarrely, Correa let it drop before throwing to second base, effectively swapping Laureano for Gimenez at first base. Correa’s bone-headed decision came back to haunt him, as Gimenez proceeded to steal second before scoring on a Will Brennan RBI single. In the bottom of the inning, Correa grounded into an inning-ending double play, prompting boos from the home crowd at Target Field.