MINNEAPOLIS — Royce Lewis will spend the Minnesota Twins’ off day on Monday celebrating his 24th birthday. For one crowd-hushing moment during the Twins’ 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Guardians at Target Field Sunday afternoon, it looked as though he could be spending it in a hospital bed.
Lewis was involved in a violent collision with Cleveland first baseman Gabriel Arias in the eighth inning. A throw from Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez led Arias into the base path, with the ball and Lewis arriving at about the same time.
Lewis catapulted into the air after bouncing off of Arias’ back and landed face first in the dirt. His momentum caused his legs to flip over his head, leaving his neck in a vulnerable position as his body bounced off the field.
Lewis, who served as the Twins’ DH in the game, stayed down for a while as he was attended to by members of the team’s medical staff. He was able to walk off the field.
Sporting a lengthy scrape and a bump on his forehead after the game, Lewis said he had some pain in his right shoulder, but he knows things could have been a lot worse.
“It was a split-second decision of I don’t even know where to go,” Lewis said. “When you’re running so hard just to try to beat out the play, just to make the game tied, and he just gets in your way at the last second, I really had nowhere to go. I don’t even know if I went into him or over him. I don’t remember.
“I’m going to be pretty sore for a day or so. It’s nice that we have an off day tomorrow. I’ll celebrate my birthday resting up.”
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli shared the thoughts of many when he said the outcome was much better than what was expected after seeing the collision play out.
“It didn’t look good at first, but we got some updates already and he seemingly has come out of it OK,” Baldelli said. “The initial reads are he has some abrasions and landed kind of on his shoulder. But nothing has come back. It doesn’t appear he has a concussion or anything acute is going on that he’s feeling. More just shaken up and that’s very fortunate for us.”
Lewis added that he was scared.
“Yeah, probably just like everyone else,” he said. “I’m tired of running into people and walls. It’s just the worst luck right there.”
From purely a baseball perspective, the Twins could ill afford to lose another key part of their offense. With Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo and Alex Kirilloff all out of the lineup due to injury or illness, the Twins managed only five hits and were shut out until Willi Castro’s home run in the eighth.
The Twins struck out 16 times, matching a season high they have now reached four times.
“We didn’t have that many competitive at-bats today overall,” Baldelli said. “We had a couple of baserunners on base. When we got ’em on, we could talk about one at-bat here or there, but we didn’t have enough good at-bats. You’re not going to win striking out that many times and struggling when you do get a guy on base and you can’t bring him in.
“The overall at-bats would have to be better for us to win today’s game.”
As was the case Saturday night with starter Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan pitched well enough to get a win, only to suffer the loss. Ryan faced the minimum number of batters through 6⅔ innings, with the lone base runner to that point — who reached on a single — erased on a double play.
But a walk to Ramirez was followed by an RBI double by Josh Naylor, ending Ryan’s day. What proved to be the game-winning run then came in on a triple by Andres Gimenez off Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar.
“I was feeling pretty good, but not the result we were looking for there,” Ryan said. “The free pass, again. Obviously it’s a little bit of a battle there. One of the best players of my generation, so it’s always fun to face him. Just didn’t execute the pitch I wanted to there. Got a little out of sync.”
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