Quantrill flirts with no-no in dominant win vs. Twins

May 7th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- About an hour and a half before the first pitch of Sunday’s game between the Guardians and Twins, Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti talked about how he wanted the team’s starting pitchers to continue to want to grow and get better.

While Antonetti’s comments were directed towards the team’s trio of rookie starters, rotation mainstay Cal Quantrill took the mound Sunday and showed his desire to get better, as the 28-year-old carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in Cleveland's 2-0 win at Progressive Field that secured the Guardians a series victory over the Twins.

“We needed this series,” Quantrill said. “We needed to get back on track. I think the whole team played well today.”

Quantrill’s start was a tangible display of how dangerous his repertoire can be, as he threw all five of his pitches, with his cutter leading the way with a whiff rate of 40%. Quantrill also worked his new splitter into the mix, as he threw the pitch 11 times and was able to get three whiffs with it.

“For me, the splitter is more something that shows if I’m doing my job early in counts,” Quantrill said. “I knew it was good, I was just never giving myself a chance to throw it. I’m glad I was able to get to use it.”

While Quantrill finished with seven scoreless innings, he had to work through a dicey start to the second, when he loaded the bases with no one out by hitting Byron Buxton and walking Alex Kirilloff and Joey Gallo. Quantrill was able to buckle down, however, as he got Jose Miranda to pop out on the infield before inducing a dazzling 4-6-3 inning-ending double play that was highlighted by a quick flip by Andrés Giménez and an 80.7 mph relay throw from Gabriel Arias.

“That was a really good play all around,” manager Terry Francona said. “Giménez made a great play, and then Arias has one of the best arms you’re going to see. They were really quick. That was really fun to watch, and needed.”

The Twins’ lone hit off Quantrill came in the seventh inning, when Kirilloff lined a changeup over the head of Giménez. Quantrill was able to lock in, however, and ended the inning with a strikeout of Miranda that came on a nasty curveball at the top of the zone.

“It was a little up, but it froze him,” catcher said. “He did a heck of a job getting strike one and then expanding the strike zone and attacking when he needed to.”

After striking out Miranda, Quantrill let out a celebratory yell while breaking out his signature double fist-pump. He finished his day with four strikeouts and three walks. It was the second strong start in a row for Quantrill, who opened the month by allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings against the Yankees on Monday. It was also Quantrill’s first scoreless start of at least seven innings since he threw seven scoreless innings against the Padres on Aug. 24, 2022.

“He pitched pretty well,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s funny -- I think he was all around the zone and we offered at pitches that probably weren’t good pitches to swing at. He kept us a little off balance. There was a lot of contact. Not a lot of it was hard contact.”

The Guardians got to Minnesota starter Joe Ryan right out of the gate with their patented small-ball style of play. After Steven Kwan and led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back singles, José Ramírez and Josh Bell drove in runs with singles of their own.

“I think our baserunning helped us, because if we don’t go first to third, then those aren’t hits,” Francona said. “But because they had to hold runners at first, balls are going through the hole and those are hits. I wish we would have gotten more, but sometimes you score and hold on.”