Oscar Gonzalez loves the fun, resilient nature of this Guardians team

CLEVELAND (AP) — Pinch-runner Ernie Clement raced home from second base on a wild pitch in the eighth inning for the go-ahead run and the AL-Central leading Cleveland Guardians rallied for a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night in the opener of a crucial five-game series.

Clement ran for Josh Naylor, who led off the eighth with a single and took second on Oscar Gonzalez's single. Jhoan Duran's 2-1 pitch to Andrés Giménez bounced in front of catcher Gary Sánchez and went back to the screen on the fly.

Sánchez couldn't find the ball initially and Clement rounded third and slid headfirst into the home plate, beating Sánchez's throw.

Clement heeded Naylor's advice when manager Terry Francona sent him in to pinch-run.

"As I'm coming in, Naylor stopped me and said ‘Hey, be ready for a dirt ball,'" Clement said. "So obviously if there's a dirt ball I've got to get my butt to third. I was just running until (third base coach Mike Sarbaugh) stopped me and he never did, so I just kept going."

The crowd of 20,669 was on its feet and Clement was celebrated by his teammates when he got back to the dugout.

"That's as cool as it gets," he said. "It's got that playoff atmosphere and the energy the crowd brought, it kept us in it because we were down early. Especially with this team, we're never out of a game. Everybody on the bench knows that."

Bailey Ober allowed one hit over five innings in his first start since June 1 and Jake Cave hit a two-run homer in the fourth as Minnesota took a 3-0 lead, but Cleveland rallied in the seventh.

Second baseman Nick Gordon's throwing error on Giménez's grounder started the seventh. Giménez took third on pinch-hitter Owen Miller's single and scored on Myles Straw's one-out single. Jose Miranda made a diving stop at first base on Steven Kwan's grounder, but the runners moved up a base and scored on Amed Rosario's single.

"We didn't play perfectly clean baseball ... We needed to really play an incredibly, crisp solid all-around game to get where we needed to be," Baldelli said. "It wasn't crisp enough."

Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie allowed three runs in seven innings.


Twins: Minnesota is trying to stay in the race despite a lengthy injury list, with second baseman Jorge Polanco (knee inflammation), center fielder Byron Buxton (hip strain), left fielder Alex Kirilloff (wrist inflammation), outfielder Kyle Garlick (left wrist sprain) and right fielder Max Kepler (bruised leg, sore wrist) all sidelined. Kepler is the only one not on the injured list. ... Gordon was removed from the game after fouling a ball off his left foot in the eighth. ... Polanco played second base in a rehab game Friday night for Triple-A St. Paul.

Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (elbow) is scheduled to start Tuesday in Chicago against the White Sox. He allowed two home runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings on a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday.


The Twins will add LHP Louie Varland (0-0, 3.38 ERA) as the 29th man to start Saturday's first game against Cleveland RHP Shane Bieber (10-8, 2.91 ERA). RHP Josh Winder (4-4, 3.83 ERA) will start the second game for Minnesota against LHP Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.30 ERA) who will be the Guardians' 29th man.

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