MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Oscar Gonzalez hit two home runs and drove in five runs, and Austin Hedges added a solo homer as the Cleveland Guardians held on for a 7-6 win against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Gonzalez, the surprise rookie, had four hits and Cal Quantrill (12-5) won his eighth straight decision. Cleveland scored the first seven runs of the game, including four in the first inning after the start was delayed 1:16 due to rain.
Minnesota’s Carlos Correa hit a two-run homer off Guardians reliever James Karinchak in the eighth, but Karinchak stranded the tying run at second to end the inning and Emmanuel Clase finished for his 32nd save.
“It was a weird game,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “Then they kept coming and we got a little sloppy, but fortunately, glad the game is over now, it didn’t go another inning because I don’t know.”
The Guardians extended their lead in the American League Central to 1 1/2 games over the Chicago White Sox and 2 1/2 over Minnesota. The Guardians and Twins play seven more times over the next two weeks.
Quantrill gave up two runs — one earned — and nine hits in five innings. The Guardians have held on to first despite losing nine of their previous 13 games.
“Obviously they fought their way back, but I thought we had them under control, for the most part, all game long,” Quantrill said. “It’s important games to win. We’ve got to beat them if we want to have a chance at the playoffs.”
Minnesota starter Dylan Bundy (8-7) surrendered season-highs with seven runs and 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Twins have lost seven of nine and fell to third place behind Chicago, which rallied to beat Oakland.
“I thought today’s game said a lot,” Correa said. “We’re never out of a game. They have a great bullpen and we’re able to bounce back and make it a really close game and make them use their high-leverage guys. There’s a lot of positives that we can take out of today’s game even though we didn’t get the W.”
Friday’s game looked like two struggling teams instead of a matchup of teams fighting for the postseason. There were multiple miscues from each team and Cleveland had two errors. It had plenty of drama, too.
Correa had four hits, homering for the third straight game, and driving in four runs during the comeback.
Before Correa’s homer off Karinchak, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli had umpires check the pitcher for illegal substances. Karinchak was touching the back of his head and going to the rosin bag before every pitch.
“I think I have an obligation to our players and to our team to do what I think is right,” Baldelli said. “And I believe it would have been hard for me and for our group as a whole to watch their pitcher do the things that he does on the mound, in a very upfront and straightforward way of trying to apparently alter some things. The last thing on earth that I want to do is go on the field and ask for a player check. It’s not something I’ve ever done. It’s not something I’ve really even considered doing, until watching this young man pitch.”
Home plate umpire Ted Barrett did a full check of Karinchak, even running his hand through his hair. Barrett told a pool reporter he didn’t find anything during his check.
Karinchak had his scoreless inning streak of 24 2/3 innings snapped and nearly hit Jose Miranda with a pitch after Correa’s homer.
“They think I was cheating, but I have no worries because it’s sweat and rosin,” Karinchak said.
Asked about the check on Karinchak, Quantrill offered a contrasting view.
“I thought that was silly,” he said. “There should be a punishment for being wrong. You want to basically call a timeout. You want to freeze the kicker halfway between an inning, there should be a punishment to being wrong. I’m glad we were able to hold off and win.”
Twins: 2B Jorge Polanco (left knee inflammation) was on the field and played catch Friday without issue and Baldelli said he hopes to get Polanco back from the injured list “sooner than later.” … RHP Tyler Mahle (right shoulder inflammation) is doing strengthening exercises and hasn’t progressed to playing catch yet. Baldelli said the team hasn’t closed the door on Mahle returning this season. … OF Byron Buxton (low-grade right hip strain) is showing improvement but won’t be activated during the current series.
RHP Triston McKenzie (9-11, 3.18 ERA) starts for Cleveland in the second game of the series Saturday night. Minnesota counters with RHP Chris Archer (2-7, 4.47).