Monday, September 25, 2023
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MLB Preview: Cleveland Guardians (62-70) at Minnesota Twins (69-63)


After taking 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays in Toronto – the club’s first series win since July 24-26 vs. KC – the Cleveland Guardians opened a 3-game series in Minnesota with a 10-6 defeat to the Twins on Monday night at Target Field…Cleveland is 2-2 with a pair of tilts remaining on this 6-game road trip through Toronto (2-1) and Minnesota (0-1, two-to-play)…club has gone 12-10-4 over last 26 series (-1G below .500/41-42 record since May 26).

The evening got off to a promising start, as the Guardians jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning against Twins starter Kenta Maeda (4.0IP, 7H, 6R-ER, BB, 3SO, HR, 66 pitches)…RAMÓN LAUREANO (lead-off single) and ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ (double) both reached to start the frame, setting up a WILL BRENNAN sac fly, a GABRIEL ARIAS RBI-double and a BO NAYLOR 2-run homer (6)…the momentum was short-lived, however, as the Twins answered with a 6-run rally in the bottom half of the 2nd against

XZAVION CURRY (2.0IP, 6H, 6R-ER, BB, 2SO, HR, HB, BK, 53 pitches)…a pair of hits and a hit batter gave way to a run-scoring balk with the bases loaded, a station-to-station RBI-single by Donovan Solano, and the second grand slam in as many days by Royce Lewis (8)…Guardians generated single tallies against Maeda in the 3rd and 4th innings…club put a pair of baserunners aboard ahead of a run-scoring throwing error in the 3rd and then got a pair of doubles from Arias and STEVEN KWAN in the 4th, but were then neutralized by the Minnesota bullpen over the final 5.0 frames of the contest, as Kody Funderburk (MLB debut) and Josh Winder (1st career MLB save) combined to retire all 15 batters faced…Twins offense added a solo HR by Matt Wallner in the 3rd and a 3-run blast by Jorge Polanco in the 4th, both off southpaw

DANIEL NORRIS (2.0IP, 4H, 4R-ER, BB, SO, 2HR). » Cleveland (62-70) sits in 2nd place in AL Central standings, 7.0 games behind 2nd-place Minnesota (69-63) & 2.5 games ahead of 3rd-place Detroit (-9.5G, 59-72)…Guardians have dropped 8 of 12, 19 of 29, 42 of 83 and 64 of last 117 overall since starting year 9-6.

After a 24-game stretch where they hit 13 total home runs, the Guardians have hit 12 home runs, in their last 7 games since August 22, including 4 games with multiple home runs…Cleveland has homered in each of their last 7 games, marking the first such streak of 7-or-more games with a home run by the Guards since August 15-September 6, 2021 when they homered in 20 straight games…Cleveland is one of 5 AL teams and one of 6 MLB teams with 12-or-more home runs within the last week…the Guards 7-game homer streak is tied with Minnesota for the 4th-longest active home run streak in MLB, trailing Atlanta (9), Philadelphia (11) and Boston (17).

In 75 career games at Target Field, JOSÉ RAMÍREZ is hitting .293 (87-for-297) with 24 doubles, 10 home runs, 36 RBI and a .828 OPS…RAMÓN LAUREANO owns a .340 average (16-for- 47) with 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 5 RBI in 13 career games in Minnesota…in 14 career games at the park, STEVEN KWAN is hitting .298 (17-for-57) with 2 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs and 4 RBI…WILL BRENNAN went 6-for-13 (.462) with one home run and 4 RBI in the 4-game series at Target Field from June 1-4 earlier this season.

Since his first game with Cleveland on August 8, RAMÓN LAUREANO has fared well in the Guardians lineup…his .455 SLG leads the team while his .273 average, 9 runs, 9 RBI and .365 OBP all rank 2nd behind KOLE CALHOUN since joining the team (min. 20AB)…in his last 5 games, Laureano is hitting .474 (9-for19) with 5 runs, 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 6 RBI, while slashing .545/.895/1.440 and tallying multiple hits in 4 of the 5 contests… among AL hitters since August 24, he ranks in BABIP (.583, 1st), hits (9, T1st), AVG (.474, 2nd), OPS (1.440, 4th), OBP (.545, 5th), SLG (.895, 5th) and RBI (6, T6th)…is also hitting a team-best .344/.447/.594/1.041 in the last 2 weeks (since August 15).

KOLE CALHOUN has been a steady contributor since joining Cleveland on August 5…the 35-year-old has hit safely in 13 of his 18 games played with Cleveland…is hitting .275 (19-for-69) with 4 doubles, 2 home runs and 11 RBI during that stretch…he had an 8-game hit streak from August 11-22, becoming the oldest Cleveland hitter to post a hit streak of 8-or-more games since Jim Thome (8 games, September 7-23, 2011) when he was 41 years old…on Sunday at Toronto, Calhoun (35 years, 317 days) became the oldest Cleveland hitter to produce a go-ahead or game-winning RBI in extra innings since Orlando Cabrera (36 years, 179 days) on April 30, 2011 vs. Detroit.

In Toronto on Sunday, JOSÉ RAMÍREZ hit his 21st home run and stole his 21st base of the season…his five seasons of 20-ormore home runs and 20-or-more steals are the most in club history, passing Grady Sizemore (4), and tied for the most among active players with LAA’s Mike Trout…he ranks T10th in MLB history for most such seasons…Ramirez has turned the trick in each of his last 5 full seasons (2018-19, ‘21-23)

He is one home run away from tying Andre Thornton (214) for 8th-most in club history…Larry Doby (215) sits at 7th-most in franchise history, while Carlos Santana and Hal Trosky (216) are T6th-most…with 3 more RBI, he will tie Lou Boudreau (740) for 12th-most in club history.

STEVEN KWAN, ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ and MYLES STRAW have been 3 of MLB’s most effective fielders since 2022…they are the only MLB trio on the same team to rank both top-15 in outs above average and top-12 in defensive runs saved since 2022. » Kwan’s 39 defensive runs saved since last season are the most of any AL fielder and ranks 2nd in MLB behind PIT’s Ke’Bryan Hayes (44)…this year, he also leads all AL fielders with 18 defensive runs saved, tied with COL’s Ryan McMahon (18), and trailing only Hayes (20) and SD’s Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) in MLB…since 2022, Kwan’s 18 outs above average rank T3rd among all AL fielders with TEX’s Marcus Semien.

Giménez’s 30 defensive runs saved since 2022 rank 2nd in the AL behind Kwan and 3rd in MLB, leading all AL infielders…in 2023, his 14 DRS ranks T4th in the AL and T7th in MLB, ranking T3rd among all AL infielders behind TB’s Wander Franco (17) and NYY’s Anthony Volpe (15)…Giménez’s 21 outs above average since 2022 lead all AL fielders, ranking T5th in MLB with SD’s Trent Grisham.

Straw has 20 defensive runs saved since 2022, good for 12thbest in MLB and 3rd-best among AL outfielders behind Kwan and MIN’s Michael A. Taylor…his 14 outs above average since 2022 rank T4th among AL outfielders and T15th overall in MLB.

2023 0-2 2.05 4 4 22.0 14 5 5 9 26
Career 0-2 2.05 4 4 22.0 14 5 5 9 26

2023 1-5 3.52 12 12 64.0 56 27 25 24 68
Career 1-5 3.52 12 12 64.0 56 27 25 24 68

The 6-6, 250-pound 24-year-old right-hander is making his 13th career start, fifth on the road, in the second matchup of this 3-game series against the Minnesota Twins, his first start against the club…is seeking his first win since July 8 against Kansas City… owns a 3.20 ERA (14ER/39.1IP) in 8 starts since the All-Star break. At the time of his MLB debut, Williams was the organization’s #1 prospect, MLB’s #2 pitching prospect and the #10 prospect overall (…he was selected in the first round, #23 overall, out of East Carolina University by Cleveland in the 2021 MLB Draft… became the 7th different rookie to make their Major League debut for the Guardians this season…is starting on 4 days’ rest; owns a 1-0 record with a 2.45 ERA (4ER/14.2IP) through his first 3 starts on 4 days’ rest. In 4 starts against the AL Central this season, the rookie is 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA (6ER/21.2IP) with 22 strikeouts and 6 walks…his most recent start against the division came on August 18 against Detroit…he took the loss, after allowing 3 runs (earned) on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks.

Williams faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the finale of a 3-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday at Progressive Field…he suffered his fifth career loss after being tagged for 7R/5ER on 8 hits over 4.1 innings…retired 6 of the first 7 batters he faced…his first mark came on a 2-run double from Freddie Freeman in the 3rd frame…Michael Busch took him deep for the third run in the 4th inning…allowed the first 6 batters to reach in the 5th frame before he was relieved…marks a career-high in runs (7), earned runs (5) and hits allowed (8)…it was the first time in his career that he eclipsed 95 pitches, passing a 94-pitch outing on July 8 vs. Kansas City.

Through his first 12 starts for Cleveland, Williams has struck out 68 batters…his 68 punchouts are the 4th-most by a Cleveland pitcher in their first 12 career starts behind SHANE BIEBER (71), Danny Salazar (79) and Herb Score (101)…following his 12 strikeout performance against Toronto on August 7, Williams became the 3rd rookie in franchise history to tally 10+ strikeouts in back-to-back starts (22SO), joining Score (5/1-5/6/1955, 26SO; 8/31-9/5/1955, 24SO) and Bob Feller (9/7-9/13/1936, 27SO).

2023: Opened up the season at AA Akron and was effective in his 3 starts…over 14.1 innings, he allowed just one earned run (0.63 ERA) on 6 hits with 20 strikeouts against 3 walks… was promoted to AAA Columbus following his start on April 20… made 9 starts at Columbus, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.93 ERA (15ER/46.0IP) with 61 punchouts and 21 walks…opposing hitters sported a .186 average (29-for-186)…at the time of his promotion to the bigs, among AAA pitchers (min 45.0IP), he was 2nd in SO/9 (11.93), 4th in WHIP (1.09) and 5th in ERA (2.93)…over his Minor League career he owns an 11.81 SO/9 and 3.59 SO/BB.


THE TWINS: Have gone 4-1 through five games on their seven-game homestand, going 3-1 vs. Texas over the weekend, followed by a win over the Guardians last night…tonight, Minne- sota will continue the homestand with the second of three vs. Cleveland through tomorrow afternoon…after tomorrow’s game, the Twins will travel to Texas to begin a six-game road trip with three against the Rangers from September 1-3 and three against the Guards from September 4-6…the Twins have gone 40-27 at home and 29-36 on the road. The Twins have gone 19-8 in their last 27 home games, dating back to June 21. The Twins have gone 14-5 in 19 home games since the All-Star break for a .737 winning percentage, the third best in baseball, trailing Washington (.778 — 14-4) and Los Angeles-NL (.750 — 15-5). A win tonight would make the Twins seven games over .500, which would be their high-water mark for 2023…the last time they were seven games over was through games of August 19, 2022, when they finished the day 62-55.

BATS BRING THE THUNDER, ‘PEN BRINGS THE FUNDER: The Twins beat the Guardians last night by a score of 10-6, giving them four wins in their last five games…Kenta Maeda was the starter but did not factor into the decision, allowing six runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings pitched…Kody Funderburk (1-0) was the winner in his major league debut, pitching 2.0 perfect innings, with three strikeouts…Funderburk became the first Twins pitcher to earn the win in his major league debut since Fernando Romero (start) on May 2, 2018 and first to do so in relief since Todd Ritchie on April 3, 1997…Josh Winder pitched 3.0 perfect innings to earn his first career save…Royce Lewis had two of the Twins’ 12 hits, including his second grand slam in as many days, the first player in Twins/Senators franchise history (since 1901) to hit grand slams in consecutive games.

ON GUARD: The Twins are playing the Guardians for the ninth of 13 times in 2023…the Twins are 4-4 vs. the Guards this season, outscoring them 26-24. Since 2022, 21 of the 27 games have been decided by three runs-or-less and 13 by one run. Since 2019, Carlos Correa is hitting .302 (39-for-129) with four doubles, nine home runs, 17 RBI, 22 runs scored, 15 walks, a .379 on-base percentage and a .922 OPS in 34 games vs. Cleveland…however, he is just 2-for-19 with one walk this season. Max Kepler has 22 career home runs vs. Cleveland, his personal most vs. any opponent.

REAL DEAL ROYCE: Royce Lewis joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only player drafted first overall in baseball history to hit grand slams in consecutive games as Junior did it in April of 1999 (drafted in 1987)…Lewis became the 10th player in baseball history with three grand slams as part of his first 10 career home runs, the others being Dom Dallessandro (1941-42), Russ Derry (1944-45), David Eckstein (2001-02), Brian Johnson (1994-96), Justin Maxwell (2007-12), Brian Roberts (2003-05), Shane Spencer (1998), Jim Tabor (1938-39) and Chris Taylor (2016-17). After starting the season hitting .182 (6-for-33) with a .576 OPS in his first eight games, Lewis has hit .358 (39-for-109) with a .976 OPS in his last 30 games, including seven three-plus-hit games…since the All-Star break, Lewis ranks ninth in the AL in wOBA (.423) and 10th in OPS (1.006).

Edouard Julien is hitting .315 (39-for-124) with 21 walks, a .415 on-base percentage and a .907 OPS in his last 40 games, since July 8. Matt Wallner has five doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 25 RBI, 10 walks, a .345 on-base percentage, a .554 slugging percentage and an .899 OPS in his last 39 games. Below are AL rookie rankings among hitters with a minimum of 150 plate appearances:

Lewis – .317 Noda – .382 Gelof – .909 Gelof – 150.5 Lewis – .383 Gelof – .566
Yoshida – .298 Julien – .378 Lewis – .887 Lewis – 142.4 Wallner – .379 Y. Diaz – .532
Julien – .285 Lewis – .366 Julien – .856 Julien – 135.7 Gelof – .378 Lewis – .521
Y. Diaz – .282 Caballero – .364 Wallner – .855 Wallner – 132.6 Julien – .372 Wallner – .515
M. Garcia – .279 Casas – .359 Casas – .843 Noda – 126.2 Yoshida – .366 Jung – .489

SERIES CONVERSATIONS: The Twins are seeking their 21st series victory this season…they are 20-17-5 in series play in 2023, going 12-6-3 at home and 8-11-2 on the road. Entering today, the Twins have gone 10-6-2 in their last 18 series, dating back to their June 23-25 series at Detroit. A win tonight would give the Twins their first series victory vs. the Guardians since taking two of three games from May 13-15, 2022 at Target Field…Twins have gone 0-5-1 in head-to-head series play against Cleveland since.

PABLO PAINTING: Pablo López enters today fourth in baseball in strikeouts with 191 (career high), trailing Spencer Strider (236), Kevin Gausman (202) and Blake Snell (193)…he is on pace to strike out 234 batters, which would land him in a tie with Dean Chance (1968) for seventh on the Twins’ single-season all-time list…the top six are Johan Santana — 265 in 2004, Bert Blyleven — 258 in 1973, Blyleven — 249 in 1974, Santana — 245 in 2006, Santana — 238 in 2005 and Santana — 235 in 2007…the last Twin with 200+ strikeouts was José Berríos with 202 in 2018.

NOT AT THE TABLE, CARLOS: Carlos Correa has reached base safely in a season high 19-straight games, since August 5…since that date, he is hitting .258 (17-for-66) with three doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI, 13 walks, a .383 on-base percentage, a .485 slugging percentage and an .868 OPS. Correa’s 19-game on-base streak is the third-longest of his career…his career long is 27, done from June 10-July 15, 2017 with Houston…his second-longest streak is 20, done September 13-October 3, 2022. Correa’s streak is the second-longest active streak in baseball, trailing Kerry Carpenter’s 24.

LAND OF 10,000 RAKES: The Twins hit three more home runs last night, giving them 70 home runs since the All-Star break, tied with Seattle for second-most in baseball, trailing Atlanta (77)…on the season, they have homered 185 times, third most in the AL and fifth most in baseball…Twins have homered in seven-straight games, hitting 17 in that span…their season-long for a homer streak is 18, done from April 18-May 6.

UNLOCKING POLANCO: Jorge Polanco has multiple hits in three-straight games, hitting two home runs with five RBI in that span…he has reached safely in seven- straight games, hitting .360 (9-for-25) with a 1.088 OPS…additionally, in his last 15 games, since August 11, he is hitting .333 (18-for-54) with four home runs, 14 RBI, eight walks, a .415 on-base percentage, a .574 slugging percentage and a .989 OPS.

TWINS ON A STICK: The Minnesota Twins Experience is now at the Minnesota State Fair through Monday, September 4…interactive games, giveaways and special appearances are part of the team’s daily lineup…the Minnesota Twins Experience is located on the south end of Cooper Street at Judson Avenue, next to the International Bazaar, and is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm daily, rain or shine…below are some of the ways fans can engage with the Twins at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Hall of Famer Tony Oliva will be at the Experience on Thursday, August 31 and Friday, September 1 from 10:30 to 11:30 am.

2023: 9-6, 3.69 ERA CAREER: 37-37, 3.88 ERA

Making his 27th start and appearance and 13th home start of 2023…also his 121st career appearance (all starts) in his sixth major league season (Miami – 2018-22). Facing Cleveland for the second time this season and third time in his career; took a no-decision vs. the Guardians on June 1 at Target Field in the Twins’ 7-6 win (5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R/ER, 1 BB, 5 K). Acquired by the Twins from Miami on January 20, 2023, along with infielder Jose Salas and outfielder Byron Chourio, in exchange for infielder/outfielder Luis Arraez.

LAST TIME OUT: Did not factor into the decision on August 24 vs. Texas, a 7-5 Twins’ win at Target Field…allowed five runs on a season-high 10 hits (season-high-tying 3 HR) in 5.0 innings pitched, with one walk and four strikeouts…snapped his career-high 19.0-inning scoreless streak by allowing a leadoff homer to Marcus Semien in the top of the first, the first time he has yielded a leadoff homer this year (6th of career)…surrendered solo homers to Corey Seager in the third inning and Leody Taveras in the fourth…was lifted after 5.0 innings for the first time since July 20 at Seattle…Twins bullpen tossed 4.0 scoreless innings, and Minnesota came from behind to take the four-game series opener. Allowed three home runs for the second time this season, also doing so on May 15 at Los Angeles-NL…also allowed 10-or-more hits for the the fourth time in his career and first time since September 10, 2022 vs. New York-NL.

ON GUARD: Facing Cleveland for the second time this season and third time in his career…is 1-0, 4.50 ERA (12.0 IP, 6 ER) with three walks and 11 strikeouts in two previous starts vs. the Guardians…took a no-decision in his last start against Cleveland on June 1 at Target Field, a 7-6 Twins’ win; pitched 5.2 innings and allowed six runs on eight hits, with one walk and five strikeouts…allowed one run through 5.0 innings, then allowed five runs on six singles in the top of the sixth before being relieved by Emilio Pagán; three of the six singles had an exit velocity under 95.0 mph and Will Brennan’s single had an expected batting average of .090, according to Statcast.

DIVISIONAL DOMINANCE: López is 4-1, 3.19 ERA (53.2 IP, 19 ER) with eight walks and 68 strikeouts in eight starts against the American League Central division this year…has recorded a quality start in five of those eight outings, and the Twins have gone 7-1 in those eight games…over his career, he is 5-2, 2.85 ERA (66.1 IP, 21 ER) with 10 walks and 80 strikeouts in 10 starts vs. the AL Central… his career 0.95 WHIP against the AL Central ranks seventh in baseball since 2019 (min. 10 GS), while his 10.95 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings ranks ninth in that span.

RIGHT ON: López has limited right-handed hitters to a .204 (62-for-304) batting average this season, with righties going 3-for-11 with one home run (M. Semien) and two strikeouts against him in his last start on August 24 vs. Texas…his 111 strikeouts against righties are the sixth most in the American League this year…his .204 opponent batting average vs. righties this season ranks seventh in the AL (min. 20 GS)…left-handed hitters are batting .265 (78-for-294) against him in 2023, going 7-for- 13 with two home runs (C. Seager & L. Taveras) and two strikeouts against him in his last outing.

Has better career numbers against righties (.648 OPS) than lefties (.745 OPS).

STRIKEOUT SAVANT: Ranks second in the American League with 191 strikeouts this year (TOR’s Kevin Gausman – 202)…owns a 10.83 strikeouts-per-9.0-innings ratio in 2023, the second-highest single-season ratio in Twins history (1961-) among qualified pitchers (Joe Ryan, 2023 – 10.92)…is on pace to strike out 234 batters; would be tied for the seventh-highest single-season strikeout total in club history (Johan Santana is all-time leader with 265 in 2004).

QUALITY ASSURED: Has recorded a quality start in eight of his last 11 outings and has posted 16 quality starts this season, the most on the Twins’ staff and tied for the fourth most in the American League with TOR’s Chris Bassitt and HOU’s Framber Valdez…his 16 quality starts are the most by a Twin since José Berríos had 21 in 2019.

CUTTING TO THE CHASE: López has a career-high 34.0 chase percentage in 2023, placing him in the 93rd percentile in baseball, according to Baseball Savant…his chase rate ranks first on the Twins staff and 22nd in the majors…also has a career-high 51.7 percent swing rate and 30.0 percent whiff rate in 2023.

Owns a career-low .273 xOBP in 2023, which ranks in the 92nd percentile in baseball

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