CLEVELAND — Joe Ryan threw the shutout ball for the second straight outing and became the second Minnesota starter to reach the eighth inning this season, leading the Twins over the AL-Central-leading Cleveland Guardians, 3- 0 on Sunday.
Jake Cave hit a solo homer in the second inning off Cody Morris (0-2) and AL batting leader Luis Arraez added a two-run single in the ninth off Enyel De Los Santos. Third-place Minnesota snapped an eight-game losing streak against Cleveland, and the second-place Chicago White Sox moved within 3 1/2 games of the Guardians.
Cleveland had won the first three games of the five-game series, which ends Monday. The Twins, who are ranked third, are six games behind the Guardians.
“It was like a stopper-type performance from him at a time when everyone felt like we needed someone to go out there and do something like that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Ryan (12-8) allowed three hits in 7 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked two in his first start since being retired after seven hitless innings and 106 pitches against Kansas City. The only previous Minnesota starter to reach eighth this year was Dylan Bundy on June 18 at Arizona.
“It’s very important to me,” Ryan said of throwing deep. “It’s something we’ve been trying to preach as a staff all year. It hasn’t happened as consistently as we would have liked.”
Ryan said he took his usual approach, which is to have a no-hitter in mind from the moment he steps on the mound.
“I think about that every game until whatever happens,” he said. “If it happens on the first pitch, I’m like it’s the no-hitter game.”
Center fielder Gilberto Celestino caught a run near the warning track on José Ramírez’s drive to end a threat in the sixth. The Twins’ infield also had three double plays.
“Celestino’s catch was beyond electric,” Ryan said. “That’s probably the most double plays I’ve had all year.”
Ryan was taken out after Myles Straw’s two-out single in the eighth. Jovani Moran retired Andrés Giménez with a flyout and Jhoan Duran pitched the ninth inning for his eighth save. Ramírez walked with one out, but Duran struck out the last two batters.
The Twins lost both games of the doubleheader on Saturday night, including the night cup that lasted 15 innings.
“Great day at the ballpark, beautiful day after a really long day at the ballpark,” Baldelli said. “It’s amazing the tremendous effort from your starting pitcher and a couple of big changes to bring the good vibes back into things.”
Morris struck out six in six innings in his fourth major league start.
“He filled the strike zone, better every time, the change was effective,” manager Terry Francona said. “As he gets more consistency with that curveball, that will certainly help.”
Aside from Cave’s home run, Morris’s toughest battle came in the first during a 14-pitch battle with Arraez to start the game that ended with a line drive single to right.
Gimenez was hit by a pitch for the 21st time this season, one more than the previous club record set by Ryan Garko in 2007. Amed Rosario had eight hits on Saturday, tying the Cleveland record for most hits in a doubleheader. Rosario had four hits in each game. Nap Lajoie (1910), George Burns (1924), and Earl Averill (1933) also had eight hits in a doubleheader.
Minnesota drafted RHP contract Ronny Henriquez from Triple-A St. Paul. He would become the first Twins player born in the 2000s to appear in a game. Henriquez was born June 20, 2000. …RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who pitched the last 3 2/3 innings and took the loss in Game 2 on Saturday, was designated for assignment.
Twins: 2B Nick Gordon was out of the lineup after playing both games Saturday, but walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth. He was removed from Friday’s game after fouling a ball to his foot and was hit in the arm by a pitch in Saturday’s second game.
Guardians: Francona said RHP Zach Plesac (broken right hand) will go on a minor league rehab assignment or pitch a simulated game Tuesday. Plesac has been on the disabled list since Aug. 30.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) will start for Minnesota in the series finale. Gray is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA in three starts against the Guardians this season. RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA) will pitch for Cleveland. Quantrill is 12-0 in 41 games at Progressive Field and has gone 33 straight home starts without losing.