Royce Lewis will try to continue his record-setting power surge when the Minnesota Twins host the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night in the second installment of a three-game set.
Lewis, 24, etched his name into the Twins’ record book on Monday when he became the first player in franchise history to hit a grand slam in back-to-back games. Both blasts proved to be key as Minnesota won each game.
Now, the Twins hope to increase their lead in the American League Central even further over the second-place Guardians. A 10-6 win on Monday gave the Twins a seven-game cushion atop the division.
“They’re going to have to beat us at our game, and we’re going to have to beat them at their game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said about the Guardians. “Just do what your team does well.”
Lately for the Twins, that has meant turning to a talented group of young hitters.
Lewis has appeared in only 50 games in an injury-marred career, but he has shown more than a few glimpses of his enormous potential. The former No. 1 overall pick has three grand slams among his first career 10 home runs, just the 10th player to accomplish that feat in modern major league history (since 1901).
“Honestly, I’m just doing what’s comfy,” Lewis said recently. “When I feel athletic in the box, I’m able to be me.”
Baldelli appreciates Lewis’ honesty.
“I don’t think that the technicians in there think about it quite like that,” the manager said. “(Carlos) Correa’s not going to look at you and drop a, ‘I’m doing this because it feels kind of comfy.’ But we’re here to figure out what works. I think that’s probably what works for Royce.”
Twins right-hander Pablo Lopez (9-6, 3.69 ERA) will start on Tuesday, trying to reach double-digit victories for the second consecutive season. The 27-year-old Venezuela native already has set a career high with 191 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings.
In his past six starts, Lopez is 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA. He has walked five batters and struck out 39 in 37 innings during that span. However, his most recent outing was his only dud in that span, when he gave up five runs on 10 hits in five innings during a no-decision against the Texas Rangers on Thursday.
Lopez is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against Cleveland. He faced the Guardians on June 1, allowing six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Guardians right-hander Gavin Williams (1-5, 3.52) is set to make the 13th start of his rookie campaign. The 2021 first-round pick out of East Carolina has 68 strikeouts in 64 innings.
Williams will try to break a winless streak spanning his past eight starts. The drought has had more to do with the Guardians’ subpar offense, as he has a respectable 3.20 ERA despite going 0-4 in that time.
“I think he realizes that he belongs,” Cleveland bench coach DeMarlo Hale said after a recent start by Williams. “It’s really a natural progression he’s going through. He’s just got that slow heartbeat.”
Williams will face the Twins for the first time in his career.
Minnesota is 40-27 at home this season; Cleveland is 29-37 on the road.
–Field Level Media