MINNEAPOLIS – The Guardians came to Minnesota and won their seventh straight series, ahead of the Twins at AL Central with five more games looming next week.
Too early to call it a race? Possibly, but after three straight matches of one round, there’s no denying that these tier competitions will match up the rest of the way.
Nick Gordon had the third inning at home, defending star Devin Smeltzer, as the Twins narrowly avoided a sweep, pacifying the Guardians with a 1-0 win on 23 June.
“I try not to get caught up in the race. The only playing field that matters is the next. The only game that matters is the next one,” Smeltzer said. “What happened in the past, you really can’t control. If you start riding those waves, then you start to get in trouble.”
Gordon, who was playing sick star Byron Buxton on center field, led a 1-2 curve ball from Zach Plisack (3-4) into the grass berm behind the wall in the center. Smeltzer took it from there, before a high-profile act by Minnesota’s taxed Bullpen ended the back-and-forth streak.
We won’t back down, but we respect them. “We know when we play with them, they’re good, man,” said Guardian coach Terry Francona. “They are playing with us as hard as any team we’ve played in the past few years.”
The Guardians loaded the bases sans stunts in the seventh inning against Joe Smith. They had a man on second base with one in eighth facing Joan Duran, the Twins’ best pitcher. They had a second-place runner by one ninth against Caleb Thilbar, who scored his first salvage career by hitting hitter Stephen Cowan to finish the match.
Cleveland has lost only for the fifth time in their last 22 games. The Guardians (36-29) lead the percentage points in the AL Central race, having played six games fewer than the Twins (39-32).
“They are strong, and they will continue to be strong,” said Rocco Baldelli, twins manager.
Cleveland hosts a five-game series against Minnesota starting June 27. They play eight more times in September.
“Hopefully we can pack the house into Progressive. It’s going to be exciting,” Plesak said.
After excelling 10-7 in the ninth inning in an 11-10 loss on June 22 and squandering the 5-3 edge of the eighth inning in a 6-5 defeat on June 21, the Twins were in desperate need of a rebound from Smeltzer (4-1). The left-handed sprinted through six innings, allowing only two hits and one double as he hit three at a 95-degree noon.
Plesak completed six runs, with three strokes and two lanes allowed. hit six.
Guardians >> RHP Yohan Ramirez, acquired in a deal last month with Seattle, joined his new club for the first time after eight goalless runs with Triple-A Columbus. RHP Anthony Castro was dispatched after allowing four runs in the seventh inning on June 22, as the newly created 13-player roster continued to spark more league-wide transactions.
Guardians >> RHP Cal Quantrill (4-4, 3.77 ERA) presents the opening game of a three-game series against Boston on June 24. He’s scored six runs in six of his last seven laps. RHP Nick Pivetta (7-5, 3.31) starts for the Red Sox.