June 1 – Two teams that have struggled offensively could heat up at the right time when the defending AL Central champion Cleveland Guardians open a four-game series against the leading Minnesota Twins. of the American League Central on Thursday night in Minneapolis.
Cleveland, which ranks last in the majors with 33 home runs and is tied with Oakland for fewest runs scored (200), enjoyed a rare outburst of hitting Wednesday. The Guardians collected a season-high 17 hits, including eight extra-base hits, as they matched their season-high run total in a 12–8 comeback win over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Guardians took two of three games in Baltimore for their second straight series win after losing three straight.
Josh Naylor hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to snap a 264-plate appearance streak between home runs for Cleveland, and Josh Bell and Gabriel Arias also went safety for the Guardians. Naylor finished with his career-high four hits and drove in six runs, while Andrés Giménez matched his career-high with four hits.
“Hopefully it keeps them going because they’ve been getting frustrated,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of his team’s hitters after the club’s first three-homer game of the season. “But I’m happy for them today.”
The Guardians will start Tanner Bibee (1-1, 2.88 ERA) on Thursday, and the 24-year-old right-hander will face the Twins for the first time in his seventh career start.
Bibee will face right-hander Pablo Lopez (3-3, 4.11), who has made one career start against Cleveland. That was in 2019 as a member of the Miami Marlins, when Lopez allowed just two hits, two walks and one unearned run while striking out six over 6 1/3 innings in a 3-1 victory.
Bibee is coming off an impressive no-decision victory in Cleveland’s 2-1, 10-inning loss against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. He allowed two hits, including a solo home run to Brendan Donovan in the first, over six innings while walking one and striking out a career-high nine. He hit 97.5 mph with his fastball and kept the Cardinals off balance with his changeup.
“I thought we saw his best changeup tonight, at least since he’s been here,” Francona said. “He has the ability to get back in there and get more with his fastball, which is nice… It was really good.”
It could be a make-or-break start for Bibee with Aaron Civale, sidelined since April 8 with a left oblique strain, returning to start Friday’s game and Triston McKenzie, sidelined since spring training with a sprained left leg. the shoulder, possibly returning as soon as Sunday. Bibee is competing with lefty Logan Allen (2-2, 2.72 ERA) for a spot in the rotation.
Minnesota enters after winning two of three road games against the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, including an 8-2 victory on Wednesday. Rookie Louie Varland pitched seven scoreless innings in the series finale.
Donovan Solano led an 11-hit attack for Minnesota with two hits and four RBIs, while Ryan Jeffers added two hits and two RBIs.
Perhaps most impressive for the Twins was the fact that they went 2-for-3 with the bases loaded. Solano’s two-run single in the third snapped a 15-0 drought for Minnesota with the bases loaded dating to May 13, and Jeffers added a two-run double in the bases loaded fifth. Minnesota entered the contest just 5-for-46 with the bases loaded, last in the majors.
“(The Astros are) a good team, and I’m pleased with the way we attacked them in these games,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said, according to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. “They’re a very good team, it goes without saying. But so are we, and that’s what we’re looking to do, regardless of who we’re playing against.”
–Field level media
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