If Thursday night at Target Field was any indication, the four-game series between the Minnesota Twins and AL Central rival Cleveland is going to be a wild one.
Both teams battled back from multi-run deficits before a sacrifice fly by Willi Castro in the bottom of the ninth gave the Twins the 7-6 victory before an announced crowd of 16,788.
Christian Vazquez led off the ninth with a walk. He moved to third on a double by Jorge Polanco. An intentional walk to Alex Kirilloff loaded the bases with no outs, setting up Castro’s heroics.
A two-run home run by Twins third baseman Royce Lewis in the eighth inning tied the game at 6-6. The drive to straightaway center field was measured at 421 feet, with an exit velocity of 106.2. It was Lewis’ second home run since rejoining the Twins on Monday after missing almost all of last season because of a second ACL tear in his right knee.
The third-place Guardians are now 4.5 games behind the Twins.
Through five innings it looked as though June 1 might be the start of something big for Twins right-hander Pablo Lopez.
After Lopez snapped a four-game winless streak in his last start, his only victory in May, he held the Guardians to one run on two hits the first two times through the Guardians’ lineup, while striking out five.
Everything changed in the sixth.
The Guardians sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs, erasing a 3-1 Twins lead and ending Lopez’s night in the process.
Lopez gave up four consecutive two-out singles in the sixth as seven batters reached base in the inning. He was replaced Emilio Pagan, who retired the one batter he faced in the inning.
Lopez has an earned run average of 4.54. He signed a four-year contract extension with the Twins on April 23 after being acquired from Miami in the offseason in a deal that sent AL batting champion Luis Arraez to the Marlins.
After getting the Guardians out in order in the first inning, Lopez gave up a bloop double to start the second. He struck out the next two batters before Guardians right fielder Will Brennan drove in the game’s first run with a single to center.
The Twins led the game in the fourth, with Max Kepler driving in Kirilloff from second with a one-out single to right. With runners on first and third, Lewis struck out and Joey Gallo grounded out to first to end the inning.
A leadoff home run by Michael A Taylor gave the Twins a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Vazquez then doubled to left, and he scored one out later on a single by Kirilloff.
Shortstop Carlos Correa, right fielder Kepler and designated hitter Byron Buxton all left the game early. Correa re-aggravated the plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Kepler left with a migraine and Buxton was hit in the ribs by a pitch.
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