After romping to a 20-6 victory in the opener of their three-game series with the Cleveland Guardians, the visiting Minnesota Twins will turn to All-Star right-hander Sonny Gray to try and clinch the series win on Tuesday night.
The American League ERA leader, Gray (7-6, 2.92 ERA) is 6-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 18 career starts against the Guardians. He most recently faced them last Wednesday, allowing just three hits across seven scoreless innings.
Minnesota's bullpen couldn't hold a 2-0 lead after Gray's departure in that contest, and Cleveland (66-72), behind a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun in the 10th inning, rallied for a 5-2 victory.
The Guardians' scheduled starter for Tuesday, rookie right-hander Tanner Bibee (10-3, 3.03), also started that game and came away with a no-decision. He gave up two runs on four hits and three walks over five innings while striking out eight.
Bibee is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against the Twins.
It was a "grand" start to the series for Minnesota (72-66), which extended its AL Central lead to six games over Cleveland with the lopsided victory.
Rookie third baseman Royce Lewis helped propel Minnesota to a 9-0 lead in the first three innings with his third grand slam over an eight-game span. Lewis became the first rookie in major league history and only the fourth player overall to accomplish that feat, joining Lou Gehrig (1931), Jim Northrup (1968) and Larry Parrish (1982).
Lewis, who has played in 56 career games, also became the fastest player to hit four grand slams. Rudy York of the Tigers held the previous mark with four in 132 games in 1938.
"It's pretty special," Lewis admitted afterward. "I've just been blessed with opportunities by the great team that we have and these guys putting me in good situations. So, hopefully we get more situations like that for everyone."
Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli has been impressed with Lewis' poise at the plate with runners in scoring position.
"For some (players) there would be added anxiety hitting with the bases loaded," Baldelli said. "I think he's kind of a free and easy guy. He loves coming up with people on base. I think you get the best out of him. He's showing that. That's a great trait to have."
Lewis finished 3-for-4 with six RBIs on Monday, also ripping a two-run, line-drive single with the bases loaded in the sixth off reliever Enyel De Los Santos that extended the lead to 11-1. It was after that at-bat that Cleveland manager Terry Francona turned to backup catcher David Fry to pitch the final four innings and give his weary bullpen a break.
"One of my fears was that we were going to score a couple, and (the lead) is under eight (runs), and we can't finish the game without hurting somebody," Francona said.
Fry allowed seven runs on 10 hits, including home runs to Joey Gallo, Kyle Farmer and Matt Wallner.
"He's strong enough mentally to just not overdue it and he won't hurt himself," Francona said of Fry. "And now, hopefully we have a chance to win (Tuesday), and if we do, he sucked up a bunch of innings for us."
—Field Level Media