Solano’s 3-run triple, Twins’ 5-run 8th drop Guardians further back in Central race

Twins win, 8-3, now seven games ahead in AL Central
Sep 5, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians relief pitcher Trevor Stephan (37) waits to be relieved during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.
Minnesota Twins left fielder Willi Castro (50) and center fielder Andrew Stevenson (45) and right fielder Max Kepler (26) celebrate after the Twins beat the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Photo credit © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins took until the top of the eighth inning on Tuesday night to drop another multi-run bomb on the Cleveland Guardians.

The Twins tagged reliever Trevor Stephan (6-6) for five runs in the penultimate frame to cap a 8-3 win over Cleveland.

Minnesota began its game-busting run with a Jorge Polanco sacrifice fly that gave the Twins a 4-3 lead in the 8th. Stephen would later throw a bases-loaded wild pitch that allowed Willi Castro to score from third, before a Carlos Correa hit-by-pitch re-loaded the bases.

Donovan Solano hit a bases-clearing triple that skipped past center fielder Myles Straw.

Guardians manager Terry Francona defended Straw’s fielding decision: “Myles has got to try and catch it like he did, because it’s do-or-die, and he got caught in-between.”

"Kind of a hard fought game," said Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli. "Some ups and downs because I think we played well, I think we swung the bats well, and we weren't ahead. We were just right there and one team had to do something kind of over-the-top to get it done. It's a satisfying win because we had to work our tails off to get there, and I was happy about the way we did that."

Twins starter Sonny Gray (6.0 IP, 6 hits, 3 ERs, 2 BBs, 44Ks) said he felt off all game, but fought through even when Baldelli wanted to take him out of the game. Baldelli left him in a tie game with runners on the corners and one out in the sixth. Gray escaped finishing the six innings to get the quality start, his eight in nine games.

"He came out and it was, 'what do you got, how do you feel about this'. It was a quick conversation and he was like, OK, your game, go get it," explained Gray. "That was a big spot in the game personally and for the team."

Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 1st-inning lead against Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee (5.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 ERs, 5 BBs, 4 Ks) on a Max Kepler RBI double and a run-scoring single by Correa.

The Guardians would tie the game in the third inning on a 2-run home run by Bo Naylor - his eighth of the season.

Cleveland took a 3-2 lead on Straw’s 5th-inning sacrifice fly, but Minnesota’s Christian Vasquez roped a solo home run to tie the game in the 6th against reliever Matt Moore.

Stephen was credited with the loss in his two-thirds inning-long outing, while Griffin Jax earned a relief win for Minnesota by allowing one hit in a shutout frame. Twins starter Sonny Gray pitched six innings in a no-relief effort, allowing six hits and three earned runs while striking out four.

The visiting Twins (73-66) will try to sweep the Guardians (66-73) Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. (11:30 a.m. pregame on WCCO Radio and 102.9 The Wolf). Cleveland’s Gavin Williams (1-5, 3.46 ERA) is expected to face off with Minnesota right-hander Joe Ryan (10-8, 4.20 ERA).

Featured Image Photo Credit: © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports