Kenta Maeda, Four Innings and Six Runs; Twins Top the Guardians 10-6 for 7-game Lead

AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kenta Maeda throws to the Cleveland Guardians in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Royce Lewis hit his second grand slam in as many games, giving the Minnesota Twins a second-inning jolt on their way to a 10-6 victory Monday over the Cleveland Guardians that stretched their AL Central lead to a season-high seven games.

Matt Wallner had a solo shot in the third and Jorge Polanco hit a three-run homer into the upper deck in the fourth to perpetuate the power surge for the Twins (69-63), whose 70 home runs since the All-Star break are the second-most in the major leagues.

Kody Funderburk (1-0) was credited with the win in his major league debut, tallying three strikeouts, two weak groundouts back to the mound and one popout behind second base over two perfect innings in relief of a roughed-up Kenta Maeda.

The defending division champion Guardians (62-70) matched their 2022 loss total with 30 games to go. They had a half-game edge on the Twins at the break, but the prolonged absence of three injured pitchers including 2020 Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber and the surprising trade of a fourth starter, Aaron Civale, have contributed to a 17-25 record since then.

The Twins, who have been in first place for 141 of 151 days this season, have only nine games left against teams with winning records. That doesn’t include the Guardians, of course, who are on the schedule five more times including a three-game series in Cleveland next week.

Bo Naylor hit a two-run homer and Gabriel Arias and Steven Kwan each had RBI doubles off Maeda, who went four innings and surrendered all six runs.

Guardians starter Xzavion Curry (3-3) lasted only two innings with six runs allowed. Daniel Norris, promoted from Triple-A Columbus for his third stint with the club this year, relieved Curry and gave up the homers to Wallner and Polanco.