Polanco’s drive off Nick Sandlin (2-3) went high off the right-field wall, scoring Kyle Farmer from second base. The teams went a combined 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position before Minnesota broke through.
The Twins have won the first two games of the series and four of five overall. They played without Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo on Friday night, and Polanco was in his second game back after a stay on the injured list with a hamstring strain.
“Polo has come back very, very sharp and has had some very solid at-bats, hitting balls hard,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He must have prepared himself really well both physically and on the mental side.”
Buxton was out of the lineup after being hit in the ribs by a pitch on Thursday. X-rays showed no breaks, but Buxton was still sore a day later. Correa was out of the lineup as he deals with plantar fasciitis, the second time this season he’s dealt with the issue.
“That’s the team we have,” Polanco said. “I know we’re missing really big key guys in the lineup, but we still have some good and great players that can come through in those situations.”
Brock Stewart (2-0) got three outs for the win, stranding a pair of runners in the seventh after Jovani Moran allowed two hits.
Duran entered with one out in the eighth with Steven Kwan on second base and the heart of the Guardians order ahead. Duran struck out José Ramírez, intentionally walked Josh Naylor and struck out Andrés Giménez to end the inning.
He then worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances. He had pitches clocked at 104.5 and 104.6 mph by Statcast during his second inning of work, the second game this season he has reached 104 mph.
“He’s just a rare breed,” Minnesota starter Bailey Ober said. “It’s amazing to watch. And every single time he’s out there I think everyone in the stands and in our dugout is in awe of what he can do.”
Sandlin, who hadn’t allowed a hit in his previous eight outings, surrendered two hits and a walk in one inning.
Cleveland’s Aaron Civale pitched five innings in his return from the injured list. He missed 48 games while dealing with a strained left oblique. He gave up four hits and walked two.
“There was a lot of traffic,” Manager Terry Francona said of Civale. “The first inning he had the bases loaded, but he elevated his fastball. He spun the ball and he cut it like he always does. I actually thought he had really good life on his fastball. ... I thought he was pretty good. Looked like Civale, which is a compliment.”
Ober tossed six innings of four-hit ball. The Guardians got their first hit of the game with two outs in the fourth on a sinking liner from Naylor that deflected off the glove of right fielder Max Kepler.
Guardians: To make room on the active roster for Civale, Cal Quantrill was placed on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Quantrill allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start on Tuesday. ... INF Josh Bell was placed on the paternity list, and INF Brayan Rocchio was recalled from Triple-A.
Twins: Gallo was a late scratch with a hamstring injury, and Baldelli said Gallo will likely need a trip to the injured list. … Kepler was back in the lineup after he was pulled Thursday with a migraine.
RHP Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.94 ERA) starts for Minnesota on Saturday night, putting his American League-best ERA on the line. Cleveland counters with LHP Logan Allen (2-2, 2.72 ERA). Allen hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his seven career starts and is coming off seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts against Baltimore.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Copyright 2023 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.