Is this team fun to watch or what? The Guardians erase deficits of four runs and three runs, including a four-run 9th inning to absolutely shock the Minnesota Twins for their seventh win of this road trip and take sole possession of the AL Central lead.

Guardians (36-28) 11 – Twins (38-32) 10. WP: Sam Hentges (1-0), LP: Griffin Jax (4-2), SV: Emmanuel Clase (17)

Incredible 9th Inning Comeback

This Guardians team has always had a flair for the dramatic, just remember their six run ninth inning comeback against the White Sox in May. Wednesday night in Minneapolis, they may have one upped themselves. What did both have in common? Josh Naylor getting a base hit in both, but we’ll start from the beginning of the inning. Leading off the inning, Amed Rosario singled into left for his fourth hit of the night. That brought up José Ramírez, who singled to the opposite side of the field to put two runners on with no outs. Right after them was the birthday boy himself, Josh Naylor. The now 25-year-old made perfect contact right on the barrel off of a pitch from Emilio Pagan and sent 107 miles per hour back to the wall in center field and just out of the reach of Nick Gordon, allowing Rosario to score and putting runners at second and third with still no outs.

Up next was Oscar Gonzalez, and on an 0-2 count, hit a bloop into left field bringing home Ramírez and Naylor raced around and beat the throw at the plate to tie the game at 10 with still no outs as Gonzalez made it to second. Andrés Giménez would smartly lay down a sacrifice bunt in order to get Gonzalez over to third. That brought up Owen Miller, who hit one deep into right center field, allowing Gonzalez to score for Miller’s eighth Sac-fly of the year and cap off a 4-run 9th inning to give the Guardians an 11-10 lead, their second time they erased a 3+ run deficit in the game.

“That was a lot of back and forth,” Manager Terry Francona said, “Unbelievable effort by them to come back like that.”

The Guardians showed in the ninth why so many have loved and admired this young team, they never stop fighting and somehow find a way late.

“It kinda falls back on us hitting the ball,” Francona said. “We’re taking some bigger swings earlier in the game, and then when it came down to that time in the game, it goes the other way.”

Mr. 4 Hits

Amed Rosario made a living getting 4-hit games in 2021 as he led the majors last year with six 4-hit games. After getting one in their 17-3 win over the Royals earlier in the season, Rosario got his eighth over the past two seasons Wednesday night with another four-hit performance. Rosario homered in the seventh to cut the Twins lead to 6-5, and then had three singles, including one to leadoff the 4-run 9th inning by the Guardians. Rosario has been on fire during the month of June as he’s hit in 14 of his last 15 games and during that stretch is batting 385 with five doubles, two home runs, a triple and eight RBI. Rosario is now batting .275 on the season and has found his batting prowess in the two spot.

Oscar’s Wild

Want a crazy stat? The Guardians have the youngest roster out of any Major League and Triple-A team. You heard that right. Every Major League AND Triple-A team have older rosters than the Cleveland Guardians do. Yet, this Guardians team sits atop the AL Central having won 17 of their last 21 games dating back to Memorial Day. The play of their young guys including rookie Oscar Gonzalez have been a huge reason why.

“When he shortens up and make’s sure he hits the ball, he can be something special,” Francona praised.

Gonzalez had two of the biggest hits on the night for the Guardians, both occurring from the seventh inning onward. In the top of the 7th, Gonzalez gave Cleveland their first lead of the night when on a 3-2 pitch, Gonzalez hit a line drive deep into left field that just got over the wall for a 2-run homer to make it 7-6 and give Gonzalez two home runs over his last three games after none in his first 21 games. Then of course in the top of the 9th, Gonzalez had another 2-run extra base hit, this one a double that tied the game at 10, and then was the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Owen Miller. The rookies continue to play like vets for Cleveland.

Good Teams Find Ways to Win

In a back-and-forth game like this that featured seven home runs between the two teams, there was drama on both sides, both teams experienced bullpen meltdowns. Both teams had clutch multi-run home runs to take the lead, but in the end, it was the Guardians who got the last laugh because of the stronger parts of their bullpen coming through. It was a tough outing for starter Triston McKenzie. The Twins torched his 4-seam fastball and slider, which he tried to mix in more of along with his curveball instead of going 4-seam heavy. Out of the first five runs by the Twins, four of them came off of pitches that were his 4-seam fastball, with the only that wasn’t being Carlos Correa’s second home run of the game, that coming off of his slider. McKenzie lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up a season high six runs on nine hits including three home runs, making it both starts against the Twins ended with him giving up three home runs.

“His fastball, he didn’t really locate it that well,” Francona said of McKenzie. “I thought they (The Twins) had a really good approach. You could tell they were really trying to get on top because they had a good lift on it.”

It was also a tough night for the recently called up Anthony Castro, as he came on in the bottom of the seventh with the Guardians holding a 7-6 lead and one out. After getting Correa to fly out, he walked Max Kepler and allowed an RBI single by Alex Kirilloff that tied the game. Then came up another Guardians killer, the old Clevelander Giovanny Urshela, who once again punished his old team by hitting a three-run home run to put the Twins up 10-7, a bad night for Castro.

However, that didn’t take away from the rest of the bullpen’s performance. Anytime Anthony Gose pitches, it’s always a great scene because of his story of being turned into a pitcher not even four years ago in the majors, it’s even more a great scene when he’s throwing 98 miles per hour consistently and allowing no runs, no hits and no walks in two innings of relief.

“It’s hard to me not to smile when I go get him because I’m so damn happy for him,” Francona exclaimed. “It’s pretty cool.”

Then came on the big guns for the Guardians pen. Sam Hentges, the hometown kid playing in the stadium he came to as a kid, came on in the 8th inning, and just like Gose, Hentges gave up no runs and no hits, even ended up with a win. With a one-run lead in the bottom of the 9th, you knew who Cleveland was turning to, and just like he’s done now for the 10th time in his last 11 appearances, Emmanuel Clase got the job done for his 17th save.

Tomorrow, the Guardians will look to sweep Minnesota at Target Field for the first time since June 18, 2017, and finish a nine game road-trip by going 8-1.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.