The Cleveland Guardians walked off the Minnesota Twins for the second straight day.
Thursday's hero? Andrés Giménez.
The Guardians second baseman continued his push for a spot in the All-Star Game by hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth Thursday afternoon for another walk-off win — this time by a 5-3 score. The Guardians won on a Josh Naylor walk-off homer Wednesday night, erasing a three-run deficit in the bottom of the 10th.
Thursday, they trailed 3-1 in the eighth before starting their rally with two runs in the eighth.
By taking three of five in this series, the Guardians trail the Twins by just one game in the American League Central Division. Next up for Cleveland is a home weekend series against the team with the best record in MLB, the New York Yankees, starting Friday.
Giménez went deep to center on a 3-2 pitch from Tyler Thornburg (0-2) as Minnesota’s bullpen imploded again.
José Ramírez drew a leadoff walk, the 10th allowed by Minnesota. Josh Naylor’s groundout moved Ramírez to second and Owen Miller flied out.
Giménez followed with his game-winner, sending Cleveland’s players pouring out of the dugout in celebration for the second consecutive day.
The Guardians lead the majors with 17 last at-bats wins, including six against the rival Twins. Cleveland is second in the AL with 18 come-from-behind wins.
The Twins failed to hold a 6-3 lead in the 10th inning on Wednesday night, when the Guardians scored four times and won the game on Naylor’s two-run homer.
Emilio Pagán and Jharel Cotton couldn’t hold the lead, and Minnesota’s bullpen problems returned less than 24 hours later.
The Twins outhomered the Guardians 10-2 in the series.
Cleveland won three of five in the series and trails Minnesota by a game in the AL Central. The teams don’t meet again until September.
The Twins took a 3-1 lead into the eighth and four Minnesota pitchers were working on a one-hitter. Thornburg retired the first batter but hit Giménez with a pitch and walked Franmil Reyes and Sandy León to load the bases.
Shortstop Carlos Correa made a diving stop of Myles Straw’s sharply hit grounder. Giménez scored and Reyes came home when Correa threw wildly to third to tie the game.
Pinch runner Ernie Clement was tagged out trying to score on Steven Kwan’s ground ball and Amed Rosario fouled out to end the inning.
Emmanuel Clase (2-2) pitched the ninth for Cleveland.
Starter Chris Archer gave up a two-out single to Ramírez, a line drive over the right-hander’s head that saw the pitcher sitting on the mound after he ducked to get out of the way.
Archer walked four straight hitters with two outs in the second, including a free pass to Kwan with the bases loaded. Archer was pulled after throwing 90 pitches in four innings. He walked six and struck out two.
José Miranda had a three-run double in the third for Minnesota.
Shane Bieber allowed five hits, struck out five and walked two in six innings.
Wes Johnson's final day as Twins pitching coach
The series finale marked the finale day of Wes Johnson’s tenure as Minnesota’s pitching coach. Johnson is leaving the Twins to assume the same role at LSU.
“Not an easy day,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Wes will be on the plane with us. He’ll fly back with us to Minnesota. We’ll have some time to decompress and talk a little bit. Some emotions will be present.”
Johnson joined the Twins in 2019 after coaching at Arkansas.
Bullpen coach Pete Maki and assistant pitching coach Luis Ramirez are expected to play major roles in Johnson’s absence.
Looking back on Josh Naylor's walk-off celebration
Following his home run Wednesday, Naylor head-butted Guardians manager Terry Francona, who was wearing a batting helmet. General manager Mike Chernoff said Naylor apologized to Francona on Thursday.
Josh Naylor's head-butt celebration: Mother knows best: Guardians' Josh Naylor apologizes to Terry Francona for head-butt
“He was like, I didn’t realize that I did that,” Chernoff said. “It was pretty funny. When Tito came in (Thursday), his glasses were all crooked. He had to go and get them taken in and fixed.”
Twins, Guardians injury news
Twins: INF Jorge Polanco was given the day off after playing the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader and Wednesday night. He missed 14 games with lower back tightness.
Guardians: Rookie outfielder Oscar Gonzalez was a late scratch from the lineup because of right abdominal tightness. RHP James Karinchak (sore back) rehab assignment ended Thursday. He will rejoin the Guardians or be optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
Twins, Guardians pitching probables for Friday
Twins: RHP Joe Ryan (6-3, 3.20 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game home series against Baltimore on Friday night.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (2-4, 7.20 ERA) faces the New York Yankees in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Progressive Field.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Andrés Giménez walk-off homer gives Guardians another dramatic win