CLEVELAND – Shane Bieber allowed one run over eight innings, Amed Rosario had four hits and the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians won their seventh in a row against the Minnesota Twins, 5-1 in a doubleheader opener on Saturday.
Jose Ramirez hit a solo homer on his 30th birthday and Owen Miller had a two-run double for Cleveland (78-66), which has won 10 of its last 12 games.
The Guardians opened a 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place Chicago White Sox (74-71) and a six-game margin ahead of the third-place Twins (72-72).
“When Shane pitches, it’s just a different feel because the innings roll by and it’s really fun to watch,” Miller said. “With him on the mound, he’s about as good as anyone. I’m glad we could get some runs for him.”
Bieber (11-8) won his third straight start, allowing four hits and walking none for the ninth time in 28 outings. The 2020 AL Cy Young winner matched his career-long streak of 10 consecutive quality starts.
“I’ve got to commend the entire offense because when they get us an early lead, it makes it a lot easier for the pitching staff and the defense,” Bieber said. “I found myself in cruise control in the middle innings. All in all, it was a good start to the doubleheader.”
Minnesota’s Matt Wallner homered in the eighth and went 1 for 3 with a walk in his big league debut, with his parents and fiancee in attendance. The 24-year-old was the 39th overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft and played in this year’s Futures Game.
“It was pretty cool to do it against Shane Bieber,” Wallner said, smiling. “That was the pitch to hit, so it was pretty fun.”
Cleveland is 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. The Guardians clinched the season series against the Twins by winning Friday’s opener of the rare five-game series.
Louie Varland (0-1), a 24-year-old right-hander, made his second big league appearance following his debut on Sept. 7. He gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
Reliever Aaron Sanchez allowed one run in three innings for Minnesota, which is 5-10 in September.
“It was an honor to pitch against Bieber,” Varland said. “For Matt to get his first hit, a home run off him, that’s awesome.”
Rosario had his fourth four-hit game of the season, including RBI singles in the third and sixth that helped build a 5-0 lead. Miller tacked on a two-run double in the fourth.
Ramirez homered in the first on a 421-foot drive to right, his 28th home run and 112th RBI. The All-Star moved into 11th place in franchise history with 191 homers.
“Ramirez is a great hitter,” Varland said. “Falling behind in the count to him is not something you want to do.”
Right-hander Josh Winder (4-4, 3.83 ERA) was to start the second game for Minnesota and left-hander Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.30 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start for Cleveland in his 10th big league stint this year.
Twins OF Max Kepler was placed on the 10-day IL with a sprained right wrist and Wallner was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul. Kepler, batting .227 with nine homers and 43 RBIs, had missed the previous four games.
Twins: SS Jorge Polanco (left knee inflammation) was removed from the first game of his rehab assignment with St. Paul after experiencing soreness Friday against Louisville. Polanco, who went 1 for 2, is being examined in Minneapolis.
Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (right hand fracture) threw a bullpen session at Progressive Field before the game, but a decision on his next baseball activity has not been made. Plesac has been on the IL since August 30.
RHP Joe Ryan (11-8, 3.83) starts Sunday for Minnesota after throwing seven hitless innings against Kansas City on Tuesday and getting removed after 106 pitches in a 6-3 win. Rookie RHP Cody Morris (0-1, 2,79) starts for Cleveland.
Guardians beat Twins for 7th straight time, 5-1 behind Bieber originally appeared on NBCSports.com