Giménez homer in 9th gives Guardians 5-3 win over Twins

Andrés Giménez watched his home run clear the center-field fence, kissed his bat and then flipped it while turning toward Minnesota’s stunned dugout.

For the second day in a row, the Cleveland Guardians won a match they probably should have lost and handed the Twins another crushing defeat.

Giménez blasted a two-run homer in the ninth inning as the Guardians walked off versus the Twins again, beating their AL Central rivals 5-3 on Thursday to take the five-game series and move within one game of first place.

When he crossed the plate, Giménez was splashed with water and bubble gum rained down on his head as the Guardians, who had only one hit through seven innings, celebrated their 17th last at-bat win — the most in the majors.

On Wednesday, Josh Naylor’s two-run homer in the 10th inning sent the Guardians past the Twins, whose bullpen has imploded against Cleveland several times this season.

“We keep fighting until the end,” Giménez said.

Six of Cleveland’s last at-bat wins have come against the Twins. The teams don’t play again until September, when they meet seven times.

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“I’m glad they’re gone,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s a lot and they’re good. I thought we played them pretty tough, but they’re a good team. They’ll be around. They’re a good team.”

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called Wednesday’s loss “excruciating” when he met with reporters Thursday morning.

He was searching for a similar word several hours later.

“Probably the most difficult series I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “I’ve never seen five games against one team in four days that felt like that.”

Giménez went deep to center on a 3-2 pitch from Tyler Thornburg (0-1) as Minnesota’s bullpen imploded again.

José Ramírez drew a leadoff walk, the 10th allowed by Minnesota. Naylor’s groundout moved Ramírez to second and Owen Miller flied out.

Giménez, who followed with his game-winner, would like to find a less dramatic way to win.

“We’re gonna go up and down and we just have to be as a group and putting great at-bats together,” he said. “Hopefully things are gonna change, but we’re getting the wins. That’s all that matters.”

The Twins failed to hold a 6-3 lead in the 10th inning on Wednesday night, when the Guardians scored four times and won the game on Naylor’s two-run homer. Emilio Pagán and Jharel Cotton couldn’t the lead, and Minnesota’s bullpen problems returned less than 24 hours later.

The Twins outhomered the Guardians 10-2 in the series.

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