CLEVELAND – Joe Ryan pitched shutout ball for the second straight outing and become only 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 off Cody Morris (0-2) and AL batting leader Luis Arraez added a two-run single in the ninth against Enyel De Los Santos. Third-place Minnesota stopped 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 third-place Twins trail the Guardians by six games.
“It was kind of like a stopper-type performance from him at a time everyone felt we need someone to go out there and do something just 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 pulled after seven hitless innings and 106 pitches against Kansas City. The only prior Minnesota starter to reach the eighth this year was Dylan Bundy on June 18 at Arizona.
“It’s super important to me,” Ryan said of pitching deep. “It’s something we’ve been trying to preach as a staff the whole year. It hasn’t happened as consistently as we would have liked.”
Ryan said he took his usual approach, which is having a no-hitter on his mind from the time he takes the mound.
“I think about it every game until whatever happens happens,” he said. “If it happens on the first pitch, I’m like there goes the no-hitter.”
Center fielder Gilberto Celestino made a running catch near the warning track of Jose Ramirez’s drive to end a threat in the sixth. The Twins’ infield also turned 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 pulled after Myles Straw‘s two-out single in the eighth. Jovani Moran retired Andres Gimenez on a flyout and Jhoan Duran pitched the ninth for his eighth save. Ramirez drew a one-out walk, but Duran struck out the final two hitters.
The Twins lost both games of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader, including the nightcap that lasted 15 innings.
“Great day at the ballpark, beautiful day out there after a real long day at the ballpark,” Baldelli said. “It’s amazing what a tremendous effort from your starting pitcher and a couple big swings does for putting a good vibe back into things.”
Morris struck out six over six innings in his fourth major league start.
“He filled up the strike zone, better each time out, changeup was effective,” manager Terry Francona said. “As he gets more consistency with that curveball that’s certainly going to help.”
Other than Cave’s home run, Morris’ toughest battle came in the first during a 14-pitch battle with Arraez to begin 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 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 selected the contract of RHP Ronny Henriquez from Triple-A St. Paul. He would become the first Twins player who was born in the 2000s to appear in a game. Henriquez was born on June 20, 2000. …RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who pitched the final 3 2/3 innings and got the loss in Saturday’s second game, 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 off his foot and was hit on 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 throw a simulated game Tuesday. Plesac has been on the injured list since Aug. 30.
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 a loss.