After being thwarted by Minnesota starter Sonny Gray, the Chicago Cubs made some big late swings, which the Twins have been lacking lately.
The Cubs beat the Twins 6-2 on Friday night thanks to rookie Matt Mervis’ seventh-inning RBI double.
“We just kept passing it on,” manager David Ross remarked.
Yan Gomes got a go-ahead single in the seventh, Christopher Morel hit a two-run homer in the ninth, and Drew Smyly (4-1) pitched six good innings for the Cubs on the first night of a nine-game trip.
“I’m excited about this win,” Smyly remarked. “We had good ABs and stayed in it, and then we broke it open at the end.”
Gray, whose 1.39 ERA is the best in baseball among qualifying pitchers, delivered the Twins another great start with nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one run.
Manager Rocco Baldelli gave Jovani Moran the ball to complete the sixth by retiring Ian Happ (three singles) and Cody Bellinger, but Griffin Jax (2-5) tripped in the seventh and lost the lead on four straight one-out hits.
“Nasty guy. Jax “may not be feeling that right now, but he’s going to be a guy that we’re going to continue to turn to,” Baldelli said.
Mervis smashed a first-pitch changeup over center fielder Michael Taylor and into the padding where the wall meets the warning track to drive in Patrick Wisdom, hitting the hardest ball of the game at 108.5 mph and 408 feet. Mervis made his MLB debut last week.
Smyly won his fourth straight game by allowing four hits and two runs with four strikeouts against the worst-hitting team in baseball.
The Cubs (19-19) trail Pittsburgh and Milwaukee in the NL Central despite being third in hitting average and seventh in ERA.
The Twins (21-18) have four hits and 30 runs in 10 games this month. This was their fourth game in May with four hits or fewer, yet they’ve led the AL Central for all but two days.
“I trust those guys,” Gray remarked. We’ll improve. No doubt.”
After hitting a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth to lead a 5-3 win against San Diego on Thursday, Carlos Correa grounded into two inning-ending double plays and was booed again by Target Field fans wanting more output after his $200 million contract. Without the 30,037 Cubs fans, the jeers would have been louder.
Correa is batting.193. Byron Buxton went 0-3 to extend his hitless streak to 25 at-bats.
“We’re stuck. Buxton said we struck the ball too hard. We’ll change. Change will make us click. We must endure. It’s baseball.”
Before the game, Cubs second baseman Nick Hoerner was placed on the injured list with a strained left hamstring, hoping for a 10-day stay retroactive to Tuesday. Morel, 23, has two homers in three games as the leadoff hitter.
“Mo’s electric. “Everyone knows,” Smyly stated. He can change the game anytime.
Cubs: RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 3.93) pitches Saturday afternoon. His last three starts have yielded one run.
Twins RHP Joe Ryan (5-1, 2.45 ERA) pitches the series’ middle game. Five of his seven starts have allowed two or fewer runs.