After two straight Guardians comebacks, Twins save a game to claim tie for first in AL Central

The Twins were able to survive Thursday’s matinee with a 1-0 win over the red-hot Guardians thanks to Nick Gordon’s third-inning home run.

The big scare came in the seventh inning when the Guardians loaded the bases with no outs. Reliever Joe Smith was able to induce consecutive ground balls that resulted in forced outs at the plate before a lineout by Myles Straw ended the threat.

Let’s give starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer a lot of credit for his six shutout innings.

The Guardians took the first game of the series, 6-5, behind a game-tying Franmil Reyes home run in the eighth and then an RBI single by Andrés Giménez in the 11th. It was a wild Wednesday as the Guardians bounced back. to score four runs in the ninth inning and prevailed 11-10. So the Twins were able to avoid a third direct hit on Thursday by saving one of three games.

Still, the landscape of the AL Central has changed a lot in recent weeks. Here’s a look at how things stand right now, pending the White Sox’s game against the Orioles on Thursday night:

1. Guardians, 36-29, .553, —
1. Twins, 39-32, 549, —
3. White Sox, 33-34, 4.5GB

Note the discrepancy in games played, giving the Guardians a percentage point advantage while technically tied for the “previous games” category. The most important short-term takeaway is that the Twins’ win on Thursday brought them back to a tie instead of two games ago, not to mention the growing deficit in the loss column.

In the long run, though, the Guardians’ series victory underscores what a great run they’ve had here over the past three weeks.

It wasn’t that long ago that this series might not have felt so great. The Twins held a five-game lead in the division multiple times, through June 1. Cleveland wasn’t in second place on some of these dates, and as recently as May 26 it was seven games behind Minnesota.

This series became a big one by the end of June thanks to the Twins playing lackluster baseball while the Guardians surged. Casual baseball fans can be forgiven for missing out on the surge. The defending champion Braves have won 14 in a row. The Phillies snapped a nine-game winning streak, all but one of those games after firing manager Joe Girardi. The Angels lost 14 in a row, a streak that was ended by manager Joe Maddon. Meanwhile, the Yankees were one of the fastest teams in baseball history to 50 wins.

All that is to say, the Guardians were overshadowed by bigger headlines. Your sequence was a partial culprit. His longest winning streak this season is “only” five games. Still, we could go back to May 29, when they lost to the Tigers, 2-1. Since then, the Guardians have gone 17-5. The only better baseball teams in that span would be, unsurprisingly, the Yankees (18-3) and Braves (18-5).

These two teams will also bring us more entertainment very soon. They have a five-game series in Cleveland starting Monday.

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