The Cleveland Guardians aren’t conceding, despite all that has gone wrong for the defending AL Central champions this season.
Kole Calhoun, of all players, sure won’t allow it.
Calhoun hit a three-run home run in the 10th inning to cap a late comeback against the Minnesota bullpen, and the Guardians beat the Twins 5-2 on Wednesday to trim their division deficit to five games.
The 35-year-old outfielder, who has been playing first base out of necessity after three other organizations let him go this season, hit an 11th-inning tiebreaking double Sunday at Toronto to give the Guardians (64-70) that series win. They went 4-2 on this road trip.
Five relievers had a hand in squandering another stellar start by Sonny Gray, who gave the Twins seven scoreless innings. Emilio Pagán (5-2) took the loss despite pitching the best of the bunch. He got the first two outs in the 10th and intentionally walked José Ramírez before yielding to rookie Kody Funderburk, who made his major league debut Monday with two perfect innings against the Guardians.
Calhoun crushed his 3-0 fastball into the seats behind right-center, prompting a collective sigh from the crowd of 20,169.
Trevor Stephan (6-4) struck out the side in the ninth for the win. Emmanuel Clase pitched a perfect 10th for his 36th save in 45 chances.
The two teams play three more times this year, next week in Cleveland, with only 28 games to go. The season series is tied at five wins apiece. Minnesota has been in first place for 143 of 153 days.
Gray threw only 81 pitches. He left with a 2-0 lead on Jorge Polanco’s two-run single with the bases loaded in the fifth off Bibee, but that was the last hit for the Twins (69-65).
Griffin Jax gave up a leadoff double to Arias in the eighth inning, and Steven Kwan drove him in with a two-out single off Caleb Thielbar.
Jhoan Duran took his fifth blown save in 28 opportunities after throwing a two-out, two-strike wild pitch that allowed Andrés Giménez to score the tying run. Duran, who has only one perfect inning in his last 17 appearances, put himself in trouble with a one-out walk to Giménez.
Next for the Guardians, RHP Cal Quantrill (2-6, 6.45 ERA) will pitch Friday to open a three-game series against Tampa Bay. Quantrill has missed nearly two months with shoulder inflammation, his second injured list stint this season.