Twins allow four runs in ninth inning, fall to Guardians

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Mere percentage points separated the Twins and Guardians in the American League Central standings coming into Wednesday night’s game.

And while Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was quick to say on Tuesday night that the standings in June don’t carry much significance for him, if this series is any indication for the future, the Twins and Guardians could very well be trading shots back and forth for the next few months.

If anything, the Twins are well aware that nothing will come easy — and it sure didn’t in Wednesday night’s ugly 11-10 loss to the Guardians at Target Field.

Gio Urshela’s three-run home run in the seventh inning sent the announced crowd of 25,604 fans into a frenzy, but just like a night before, the Twins’ bullpen was unable to protect a late lead.

“There’s no one in our clubhouse that’s not pissed off right now. So that’s fine. I mean, we should be a little pissed off based on the way we’ve played over the last couple of days and just the inability to get the job done,” Baldelli said. “Getting the job done ultimately makes everybody feel better, and something that at the end of the games we haven’t done. I think we can use that as a little bit of motivation and use it to our benefit.”

Emilio Pagán, who gave up a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning on Tuesday, struck out the side in the eighth inning on Wednesday. But asked to cover the ninth, too, after Jhoan Duran worked two innings the night before, Pagán ran into trouble.

The righty allowed a pair of singles to begin the ninth inning before surrendering a double to Josh Naylor to deep center field that just ticked off Gilberto Celestino’s glove. Griffin Jax was then summoned with a pair of runners in scoring position and gave up a two-run, game-tying single to Oscar Gonzalez.

Gonzalez came around to score the go-ahead run later in the inning on an Owen Miller sacrifice fly.

Baldelli said because of Jax’s recent usage — he threw 27 pitches on Tuesday night and 16 pitches on Sunday — the Twins wanted to do everything they could to not use him again on Wednesday.

“Sometimes this game is brutal. I roll two ground balls, not hit very hard, we’ve got one of the best defenses in baseball, and they somehow both find their way through the holes. Those two ground balls are a half a foot in either direction, and we’ve got two outs, nobody on,” Pagán said. ” … It sucks. It absolutely sucks. We had that game won.”

While the Twins scored steadily throughout the night — they scored in each of the first five innings and again in the seventh — Cleveland’s runs came in bunches throughout the night, scoring once in the third and then three times in both the fifth and seventh innings before the four-run ninth.

Twins starter Sonny Gray was knocked out of the game after giving up four runs (three earned) in four-plus innings, leaving during Cleveland’s three-run fifth inning.

The Twins had an early edge after Carlos Correa homered in the first inning. He hit his second of the night in the third inning and hit two more balls to the warning track. Urshela finished the day a double shy of the cycle and catcher Ryan Jeffers also had a pair of hits and drove in two runs, one on a safety squeeze. But the balanced offensive effort was not enough to overcome on a night where the bullpen surrendered seven runs.

“It’s obviously tough. But at the same time, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played and we’ve got to play them a lot more, especially this week,” Correa said. “You’ve got to have a short memory in this game with such a long season. Things like that happen. Move forward, come back tomorrow, make sure we get that win tomorrow.”

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