After losing their eighth straight game to the Cleveland Guardians in a marathon 15-inning showdown that last over five hours and ended well after midnight, many wondered how the visiting Minnesota Twins would respond on Sunday afternoon.
Thanks to another dominant performance by rookie right-hander Joe Ryan, the answer was quite nicely, thank you.
Ryan started the contest with 4 1/3 hitless innings and departed after allowing three hits over 7 2/3 innings in a 3-0 victory.
Now Minnesota (73-73), which trails the first-place Guardians (79-67) by six games in the American League Central, will try to depart Cleveland with two wins when they wrap up their five-game series on Monday afternoon.
Right-hander Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA in three starts against the Guardians this season, will take the mound for the Twins while Cleveland will answer with right-hander Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51).
Quantrill is 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA in nine career games, including six starts against the Twins, but he's been even better when he takes the mound at Progressive Field. Quantrill is an amazing 12-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 41 career games (31 starts) at Progressive Field, including a 7-0 mark with a 3.38 ERA in 16 starts there this season.
Cleveland has a huge three-game series with the second-place White Sox (76-71) on deck starting Tuesday in Chicago. A loss to the Twins in Monday's finale would chop their first-place lead over the idle White Sox to just three games with another challenging three-game series against Tampa Bay still on the schedule next week.
Sunday's loss was just the second in 11 games for Terry Francona's Guardians. Jake Cave gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an opposite-field homer and Luis Arraez added a two-out, two-run single in the ninth to back the pitching of Ryan and relievers Jovani Moran and Jhoan Duran.
"Cave seemed like he was on everything today," Francona said. "And their guy (Ryan) was so good it was holding up."
"It was kind of a stopper-type of performance by him," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said of Ryan.
Ryan was pulled after tossing seven no-hit innings in a 6-3 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday.
"When you throw the way he did last time out, to come out here and basically do it again ... to throw the ball with that type of consistency and stuff and execution ... he was at a very high level today from beginning to end," Baldelli said. "Carrying that over from start to start, it's one thing to have one good start, it's another to have two dominant starts in a row. I really like what I'm seeing from him. It's hard not to."
On a day the Guardians managed just three hits, the offensive highlight arguably came in the sixth inning when second baseman Andres Gimenez was hit in the knee attempting to bunt. It was the 21st time this season that Gimenez was hit by a pitch, breaking the franchise single-season record of 20 set by Ryan Garko in 2007.
"I'm sure that's not something he's dying to lead the league in," Francona said.
--Field Level Media