By TYLER MASON Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Cleveland Guardians overcame an early exit from starting pitcher Gavin Williams caused by knee soreness, taking a three-run lead by the fourth inning and beating the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Minnesota, which leads second-place Cleveland by six games, went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded three runners on third base. The Twins’ Royce Lewis hit a solo homer in the fourth following grand slams in his previous two games.
Williams retired Lewis on a bases-loaded popup in the first, then left because of rain knee pain and was replaced by Hunter Gaddis (2-1), who allowed one run over three innings. Sam Hentges (two innings) Trevor Stephan (one inning) and Nick Sandlin (one inning) followed with scoreless relief.
“In good conscience, I couldn’t let him go back out there,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said of Williams. “I wanted to. We’re up against it as far as innings go, but I’d have had a really hard time. Every time he threw a pitch I’d have been holding my breath.”
Williams said he slipped during a pitch in the first inning, injuring the knee He didn’t sound overly concerned.
“It buckled a little bit. I caught a spike and just fell down, really,” Williams said.
Emmanuel Clase allowed Michael A. Taylor’s one-out homer in the ninth before getting his AL-leading 35th save in 44 chances. Taylor’s home run was his career-high 20th.
Bo Naylor homered in consecutive games for the first time in his major league career, putting Cleveland ahead with a solo drive in the second off Pablo López (9-7). José Ramírez scored on López’s wild pitch in the third and Kole Calhoun’s RBI groundout boosted the lead to 3-0 in the fourth.
“There’s no quit in any of these guys,” Gaddis said. “It’s fun to be around. It doesn’t matter what happened the day before. You just show up the next day.”
Will Brennan added an RBI single in the seventh against Emilio Pagán
López gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings. Minnesota won his previous five starts prior to Tuesday’s loss.
“On a day where he probably didn’t make as many quality pitches as he normally would, or maybe didn’t feel at his absolute best, he kept us right in the ball game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “If your starters give you six innings and give up three runs, you’re going to generally take that and feel OK about it.”
Cleveland designated LHP Daniel Norris for assignment. Norris was brought up on Monday and allowed four runs in two innings. RHP Hunter Gaddis was recalled from Triple-A Columbus.
BUXTON HEADING TO THE OUTFIELD
Minnesota’s Byron Buxton hasn’t played in the outfield yet this year as he’s battled a knee issue. He is set to play center field Wednesday as he begins a rehab assignment at Triple-A St. Paul. Buxton has been on the injured list since Aug. 2. The former Gold Glove winner is batting .207 with a .731 OPS in 85 games this season.
Guardians: Francona said RHP Cal Quantrill (right shoulder inflammation) will pitch Friday. Quantrill last pitched for Cleveland on July 5 and was 2-6 with a 6.45 ERA in 13 starts. … 1B Josh Naylor (right oblique strain) was 1 for 2 with an RBI single for Double-A Akron on Tuesday in the start of a rehab assignment. He is to work out Wednesday, Francona said, before playing Thursday and Friday.
Twins: Alex Kirilloff (right shoulder strain) will join Byron Buxton in St. Paul for a rehab assignment, playing DH on Wednesday. Kirilloff has been sidelined since July 29.