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Twins unable to rally vs. Guardians in fifth straight loss

CLEVELAND – Bailey Ober tried everything and none of it worked against Cleveland Guardians star third baseman José Ramírez.

In the bottom of the first inning Saturday, Ober found himself in a 12-pitch battle. Fastballs at the top of the strike zone were fouled. Inside cutters were pulled foul. A low changeup meant another foul. Ramírez resisted chasing a curveball in the dirt.

"By that point, I'm just hoping that he'll hit the ball right at someone," Ober said.

During an at-bat that spanned five minutes – an eternity with a pitch clock – Ober left his 12th pitch, a changeup, over the plate and Ramírez sent it over the right-field fence for a two-run homer. It was that type of day for Ober, and the Twins were trounced in an 11-4 loss at Progressive Field, the club's fifth consecutive loss.

The Twins, who are winless in their four games against the division-leading Guardians this season, scored four runs in the ninth inning after the Guardians committed two errors.

"We're all trying to find it right now," said Ober, who allowed eight hits and five runs. "Obviously, the last few games haven't been great. A lot of stuff has not gone our way. Almost everything's going the other team's way."

It was less than a week ago when the Twins were the hottest team in the league. After starting the season with a 7-13 record, they won 17 of their next 20 games, buoyed by a 12-game winning streak. Bad for 20 games, great for 20 games, and now they've lost five in a row.

"It's a funny game that we play," Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli said. "There is nothing like it. You can go out there and you're on fire for two, three weeks straight and you feel like you can do no wrong, and the game will turn it around very quickly on you."

The Twins offense, which averaged seven runs during their 12-game winning streak, looks like a shell of itself. They've carried a lead in only three of their last 44 innings.

Guardians lefty Logan Allen yielded five hits and one walk in six innings. The Twins had their first two batters reach base — Ryan Jeffers singled and Carlos Correa drew a walk — but the potential rally fizzled when Willi Castro struck out and Jose Miranda grounded into a double play.

The Twins didn't have another baserunner reach second base until the ninth inning.

"Guys are being the same as we are when we're hot," Kyle Farmer said. "It's just not rolling our way like it did. I think you've just got to stick with it. We might need to find a new sausage. The sausage isn't here, so I think we might need to find a new one."

BOXSCORE: Cleveland 11, Twins 4

Ober, who carried an 18-inning scoreless streak against Cleveland from the past two seasons, lasted only four innings. He barely survived the first inning, throwing 38 pitches to six batters.

"It felt like no matter if I left it over the plate or if I executed, they were hitting the ball," Ober said. "It just felt like they were putting everything in play, and everything was finding a hole."

The Guardians tallied a season-high 16 hits. Ramírez bashed an RBI double off the right field wall in the third inning as the announced sellout crowd of 35,545, which was handed Ramírez bobbleheads entering the ballpark, roared with approval.

Cleveland scored four runs in the seventh inning off reliever Jay Jackson, a rally aided by a high throw from Farmer and a Willi Castro fielding error, turning a blowout into a domination. The Twins resorted to a position player pitching for the second time this season as Castro took the mound in the eighth inning.

"When you're having trouble scoring on a level that we have over the last five games, it's easy to get a little down," Baldelli said. "It's hard to have good energy. ... We have good hitters. We have guys that have been on fire already this year at different points. It's time to wake up and turn it around."