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Guardians vs. Twins – Match Recap – June 23, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Guardians came to Minnesota and won their seventh straight series, stripping the Twins in the AL Central with five more matchups coming up next week.

Too early to call it a race? Maybe, but after three straight one-run games, there’s no denying these division rivals will last the rest of the way.

Nick Gordon hit a home run in the third inning that stood in for starter Devin Smeltzer as the Twins dodged a sweep and the Guardians chilled with a 1-0 win on Thursday.

“I try not to get involved in the race. The only pitch that counts is the next one. The only game that matters is the next one,” Smeltzer said. “You really can’t control what happens in the past. If you start riding those waves, you’re in trouble.”

Gordon, who came on in midfield for ailing star Byron Buxton, drove a 1-2 curveball from Zach Plesac (3-4) into the grass berm behind the wall at center. Smeltzer took it from there before a tightrope act by Minnesota’s taxed and struggling bullpen ended the back-and-forth streak.

“We won’t back down, but we respect them. We know when we play them they’re good man,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona. “They play as hard against us as any other team has played against us in recent years.”

The Guardians loaded bases in the seventh inning against Joe Smith with no outs. They brought one man to second base while one faced off at eighth base against the Twins’ best aide Jhoan Duran. They had a second-place runner and one in ninth-place against Caleb Thielbar, who made his first save of his career by defeating pinch-hitter Steven Kwan to end the game.

Cleveland lost for the fifth time in their last 22 games. The Guardians (36-29) lead the AL Central race by percentage points after playing six fewer games than the Twins (39-32).

“They are tough and they will continue to be tough. They’re not going anywhere,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.

Cleveland hosts a five-game series against Minnesota starting Monday. They play eight more times in September.

“Hopefully we can pack the house at Progressive. It’s going to be exciting,” Plesac said.

After a 10-7 lead in the ninth inning in an 11-10 loss on Wednesday and a 5-3 lead in the eighth inning in a 6-5 loss on Tuesday, the Twins desperately needed a pick-me-up from Smeltzer ( 4-1 ). The left-hander cruised through six innings, allowing just two singles and a double while striking out three on a 95-degree afternoon.

Plesac went six innings, allowing three hits and two walks. He hit six.

BUXTON INJURED

The twins had Buxton on the bench for the second straight game with pain and swelling in his right knee that has bothered him all season, his first consecutive absence in two months. Baldelli said the team is not currently considering staying on the injured list to help Buxton’s chronic case of patellar tendonitis.

“He will continue to do an admirable job of dealing with this going forward,” Baldelli said. “But if you literally can’t swing or run, you can’t play the game.”

Buxton has tried his best to take the injury and has plenty of experience in his career of star crossings and lack of time.

“I wouldn’t say it’s worse. I wouldn’t say it’s better. Some days are better than others,” Buxton said. “So take those days and try to walk with them as best you can. You fight on the bad days.”

TRAINING ROOM

Guardian: RHP Yohan Ramirez, acquired in a trade with Seattle last month, joined his new club for the first time after eight scoreless innings with Triple-A Columbus. RHP Anthony Castro was sent down after allowing four runs in the seventh inning on Wednesday night as the recently introduced 13-pitcher maximum continues to spark more league-wide transactions.

Gemini: Rookie RHP Josh Winder (shoulder impingement) was brought back from rehab and sent to Triple-A St. Paul because the pitcher limit made it impossible to carry six starters. He is up for a 27th man call-up to start during Tuesday’s doubleheader in Cleveland.

NEXT

Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (4-4, 3.77 ERA) hits the opener of a three-game streak against Boston on Friday night. He has logged more than six innings in six of his last seven rounds. RHP Nick Pivetta (7-5, 3.31) starts for the Red Sox.

Gemini: RHP Dylan Bundy (4-3, 5.17) takes the mound to start a three-game game against Colorado on Friday night and got his best start to the season with an eight-inning run allowed in Arizona last week. RHP Germán Márquez (3-5, 6.16) plays for the Rockies.

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