Royce Lewis hits a grand slam, drives in 6 as the AL Central-leading Twins crush Cleveland 20-6
Published 7:37 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023
CLEVELAND — Royce Lewis had a grand slam and a career-high six RBIs, and Jorge Polanco and Carlos Correa added solo homers off Lucas Giolito in his Cleveland debut as the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins crushed the Guardians 20-6 on Monday night.
Lewis became the first rookie in MLB history with three grand slams in an eight-game span. The 24-year-old third baseman also is the second player ever with five homers and three slams in the same timeframe, joining baseball legend Lou Gehrig in 1931.
“This team is amazing and the situation just seems to find me because guys keep getting on base in front of me,” said Lewis, who has four grand slams in 56 career games in the majors. “Scoring 20 runs is definitely fun, especially when you can beat your divisional rival in a pivotal series.”
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The Twins moved six games ahead of the second-place Guardians with 24 to play, including two more in this series at Progressive Field. They finished with 20 hits, had 12 players score, and established season highs in runs, hits and margin of victory.
Kyle Farmer hit a three-run homer, and Joey Gallo and Matt Wallner each had two-run shots off catcher David Fry, who pitched the final four innings and allowed seven runs and 10 hits. Minnesota led 18-1 in the middle of the seventh.
“That’s one of the best offensive games I’ve ever seen in pro baseball,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We had a lot of memorable games for a lot of people. Some of them started the game and some came in later. Obviously, I enjoyed the win.”
Giolito (7-12), claimed off waivers from the Angels on Aug. 31, gave up a career high-tying nine runs in three innings. The right-hander is 1-7 with a 7.22 ERA in his last 11 starts, which include outings with the White Sox, Los Angeles and Cleveland.
“It’s just kind of like a nightmare situation,” Giolito said. “Just really poor execution and when I was making mistakes, they weren’t missing at all. So I wasn’t getting away with anything.”
Minnesota starter Pablo López (10-7) went six innings, allowing one run on an RBI triple by José Ramírez. The right-hander struck out three, putting him eight behind Toronto’s Kevin Gausman (207) for the AL lead.
Lewis went 3 for 4, Polanco was 3 for 3 with three runs and Edouard Julien also scored three runs. Willi Castro played center field and third base before pitching the ninth for the Twins and giving up three runs.
“I don’t think there is really a way to pitch to Royce Lewis with the bases loaded,” López said. “He must live for those moments.”
Minnesota’s 20 runs were the most allowed by the Guardians since June 4, 2002, when the host Twins routed them 23-2 to tie the franchise mark for the largest defeat. They also were beaten by 21 and shut out at Detroit on Sept. 15, 1901.
Fry is the first non-primary pitcher to work at least four innings in a game since St. Louis’ Jose Oquendo against Atlanta on May 14, 1988.
“I was trying to save our bullpen, just out there to get outs, throw slow, don’t get hurt and get out of there,” Fry said. “We still want to be able to win this series and I was able to.”
Guardians manager Terry Francona revealed that Sept. 20 is the target date for RHP Shane Bieber and RHP Triston McKenzie to be activated from the 60-day injured list.
Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young winner, has not pitched since July 9 because of right elbow inflammation, while McKenzie sprained his right elbow on June 10.
Francona said both will face live hitters later this week at Class A Lake County, then begin minor-league rehab assignments. Once Bieber and McKenzie are capable of throwing 85 pitches, they will be activated.
Twins: DH Byron Buxton (right hamstring strain) will remain in Minnesota for treatment after experiencing a flare-up of patellar tendinitis in his right knee while playing in a rehab game for Triple-A St. Paul.
Guardians: RHP Michael Kelly (lower back strain), who has been on the 15-day IL since Aug. 18, made his second rehab appearance with Double-A Akron by throwing a scoreless inning Sunday against Bowie.
Twins RHP Sonny Gray (7-6, 2.92 ERA) takes on Guardians RHP Tanner Bibee (10-3, 3.03 ERA).