MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — Royce Lewis hit a Grand Slam for his first big league homer, scoring a nine-run fifth inning as the Minnesota Twins beat the coronavirus-hit Cleveland Guardians 12-8 on Friday night.
Byron Buxton, George Polanco and Gary Sanchez also lived for Minnesota. The barrage came after Minnesota closed in two of their three matches against Houston.
The Guardians were called off for the first time since Wednesday’s game in Chicago against the White Sox – the first COVID-19-related postponement in this season’s majors.
Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis replaced manager Terry Francona, who entered MLB’s health and safety protocols this week. First base coach Sandy Alomar, third base coach Mike Sarbaugh, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres and hitting analyst Justin Toole are also out.
Earlier on Friday, Cleveland outfielder Josh Naylor was placed on the injured list related to COVID-19.
Lewis, the Twins’ top prospect, who debuted earlier this season, batted twice in fifth. After doubling on his first trip to the plate in the innings, Lewis cleared the ground with reliever Brian Shaw with a Grand Slam.
The 22-year-old shortstop received a curtain call from Twins fans, who was exiting the dugout to tip his hat after his memorable homer.
Minnesota went four games without a home run, but got the first match of the night in the first at-bat. Buxton added Aaron Sivale (1-3) in left field for a deep drive into the second deck.
Polanco also hit a single shot in Sivale’s first innings, which eventually led to the retiring of 11 straight batsmen before the Minnesota offense flared up.
Sanchez tagged Shaw in the fifth for a three-run drive to make it 7-2.
Twins starter Sonny Grey’s outing had mixed results. He hit a season-high eight, but also scored four in 4 1/3 innings, with two runs and four hits. He surrendered a single homer to number 9 batsman Austin Hedges in fifth.
Griffin Jacques (3–0) relieved Gray and took the win despite conceding four hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
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Willis once advocated for twins.
“I told the players, we want them to play it the right way,” Willis said. “We’re not going to get in their way, but we’ll decide as we have to and we’ll go on and on.”
RHP Shane Bieber (1-2, 4.13 ERA) started in the second game of the series for Cleveland on Saturday as he looks to rebound from his worst outing of the year. As of Friday night, Minnesota still had not announced a starter for Saturday’s game as the Twins deal with injuries in their opening rotation.
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