CLEVELAND — Sonny Gray had been cruising.
An inning before, he had struck out two of three batters, pounding the strike zone. And then in the fourth, it inexplicably fell apart for the Minnesota Twins’ ace — and his defense.
Gray threw seven straight balls to the first two batters of what would turn into a three-run inning that would force him out of the game early. Though the Twins mounted a comeback after that, the inning played a large role in sinking them to a 4-3 loss Saturday night at Progressive Field.
After walking the first batter of the inning, Jose Ramirez reached on a single that first baseman Donovan Solano couldn’t corral. On the very next play, Josh Naylor poked a ball toward third baseman Jose Miranda, who slid to stop it but fell over before he could get a throw off. The ball ended up trickling towards Carlos Correa. An alert Ramirez had broken towards third.
Correa underhanded the ball toward Miranda, who lunged at Ramirez, failing to tag him. That prompted Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to come out of the dugout, who animatedly seemed to be arguing that Ramirez was running out of the baseline.
Amed Rosario scored on the play. Another run scored on a Josh Bell single and the third of the inning came on a bases-loaded walk to Myles Straw. Gray was assessed an automatic ball for a pitch clock violation to begin that plate appearance.
In total, Gray walked three and allowed a trio of hits. The 39 pitches meant that his day ended after just five innings.
While that inning was the most consequential in the Twins’ loss, they managed to claw their way back into the game with a pair of home runs — one from Max Kepler, who has proven himself a prolific home run hitter at Progressive Field, and the other from Correa, whose blast tied the game in the seventh.
But that tie was short-lived.
Jorge Alcala, who was called up earlier in the day, allowed a solo home run to Steven Kwan in his second inning of work, the seventh, and the Twins went down in order in the final two innings.
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