MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Royce Lewis hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth inning and Willi Castro had a game-ending sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the ninth, lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 7-6 comeback victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday night.
Eli Morgan (2-1) walked Christian Vázquez to start the ninth. Jorge Polanco, who came off the injured list before the game, followed with a double. After an intentional walk, with the infield drawn in, Castro poked a perfectly placed fly ball to right field that was plenty deep enough to score Vázquez.
Castro was one of three Twins reserves to enter mid-game after Byron Buxton (ribs), Carlos Correa (foot) and Max Kepler (migraine headache) were all pulled for health reasons.
Guardians rookie Tanner Bibee, who finished five innings, still hasn’t won in six starts since his major league debut on April 26.
Gabriel Arias and Will Brennan each had two hits as Cleveland’s lagging lineup showed more life on the heels of a 12-8 win at Baltimore the day before.
The Guardians were in good shape after Mike Zunino hit a two-run single to cap a five-run sixth inning against Minnesota starter Pablo López. He walked ninth hitter Myles Straw to start the sixth, the first Guardians baserunner since the second inning. López then gave up six sharply hit singles, including four straight that ended his night and left the Twins with a 6-3 deficit.
The game grew worse first for Minnesota. Buxton, whose exclusive role as designated hitter has helped keep him off the injured list, was plunked in the ribs by a 96-mph fastball from Bibee in the fourth and removed for his next at-bat. Correa was taken out with aggravation of the plantar fasciitis in his left foot that kept him out of two games last week.
But Lewis came to the rescue. The affable rookie who was the first overall pick in the 2017 draft and had his 2022 debut shortened to 12 games by his second torn ACL in as many years homered Monday at Houston in his first game of the season.
After Donovan Solano’s RBI double brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth, Lewis smacked a 95-mph fastball from Trevor Stephan into the grass berm behind center field to make it 6-6. Lewis hit his first career home run on May 13, 2022, against Cleveland.
Emilio Pagán pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, and Griffin Jax (3-6) worked a perfect ninth for the victory for the Twins, who got a home run from Michael Taylor to lead off a four-hit fifth against Bibee.
Guardians: 1B Josh Naylor, who jammed his wrist during a slide while stealing third base Wednesday at Baltimore, was scratched from the lineup after feeling persistent discomfort while taking pregame swings in the batting cage. Naylor had six RBIs in that game.
Twins: Polanco was reinstated from the injured list after missing 11 games with a strained left hamstring. … OF Trevor Larnach, who was placed on the IL with pneumonia 10 days ago, will start a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul on Friday.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (1-1, 2.84 ERA) will come off the injured list to start Friday night, his first appearance in nearly two months. Civale has been rehabilitating a strained left oblique muscle.
Twins: RHP Bailey Ober (3-2, 2.68 ERA) will pitch the second game of the series. His best start of the season came at Cleveland on May 5 with seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win.