Guardians beat Twins for 7th straight time, 5-1 behind Bieber

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CLEVELAND – Shane Bieber allowed one run over eight innings, Amed Rosario had four hits and the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians won their seventh in a row against the Minnesota Twins, 5-1 in a doubleheader opener on Saturday.

Jose Ramirez hit a solo homer on his 30th birthday and Owen Miller had a two-run double for Cleveland (78-66), which has won 10 of its last 12 games.

The Guardians opened a 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place Chicago White Sox (74-71) and a six-game margin ahead of the third-place Twins (72-72).

“When Shane pitches, it’s just a different feel because the innings roll by and it’s really fun to watch,” Miller said. “With him on the mound, he’s about as good as anyone. I’m glad we could get some runs for him.”

Bieber (11-8) won his third straight start, allowing four hits and walking none for the ninth time in 28 outings. The 2020 AL Cy Young winner matched his career-long streak of 10 consecutive quality starts.

“I’ve got to commend the entire offense because when they get us an early lead, it makes it a lot easier for the pitching staff and the defense,” Bieber said. “I found myself in cruise control in the middle innings. All in all, it was a good start to the doubleheader.”

Minnesota’s Matt Wallner homered in the eighth and went 1 for 3 with a walk in his big league debut, with his parents and fiancee in attendance. The 24-year-old was the 39th overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft and played in this year’s Futures Game.

“It was pretty cool to do it against Shane Bieber,” Wallner said, smiling. “That was the pitch to hit, so it was pretty fun.”

Cleveland is 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. The Guardians clinched the season series against the Twins by winning Friday’s opener of the rare five-game series.

Louie Varland (0-1), a 24-year-old right-hander, made his second big league appearance following his debut on Sept. 7. He gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.

Reliever Aaron Sanchez allowed one run in three innings for Minnesota, which is 5-10 in September.

“It was an honor to pitch against Bieber,” Varland said. “For Matt to get his first hit, a home run off him, that’s awesome.”

Rosario had his fourth four-hit game of the season, including RBI singles in the third and sixth that helped build a 5-0 lead. Miller tacked on a two-run double in the fourth.

Ramirez homered in the first on a 421-foot drive to right, his 28th home run and 112th RBI. The All-Star moved into 11th place in franchise history with 191 homers.

“Ramirez is a great hitter,” Varland said. “Falling behind in the count to him is not something you want to do.”

Right-hander Josh Winder (4-4, 3.83 ERA) was to start the second game for Minnesota and left-hander Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.30 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start for Cleveland in his 10th big league stint this year.

REVOLVING ROSTER

Twins OF Max Kepler was placed on the 10-day IL with a sprained right wrist and Wallner was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul. Kepler, batting .227 with nine homers and 43 RBIs, had missed the previous four games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: SS Jorge Polanco (left knee inflammation) was removed from the first game of his rehab assignment with St. Paul after experiencing soreness Friday against Louisville. Polanco, who went 1 for 2, is being examined in Minneapolis.

Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (right hand fracture) threw a bullpen session at Progressive Field before the game, but a decision on his next baseball activity has not been made. Plesac has been on the IL since August 30.

UP NEXT

RHP Joe Ryan (11-8, 3.83) starts Sunday for Minnesota after throwing seven hitless innings against Kansas City on Tuesday and getting removed after 106 pitches in a 6-3 win. Rookie RHP Cody Morris (0-1, 2,79) starts for Cleveland.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).