MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Frank Schwindel homered for the second straight game, Ian Happ added a towering homer into the third deck, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Manuel Rodríguez (3-2) earned the win for Chicago, working two scoreless innings in relief of starter Zach Davies. Rodríguez, Codi Heuer, Adam Morgan and Rowan Wick combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings with Wick earning his first save of the season.
Cubs second baseman Matt Duffy ended a threat for Minnesota in the eighth when he tracked down Max Kepler’s pop-up into medium right field, spun and threw Luis Arraez out at the plate trying to score from third.
“They came in and shut the door,” Davies said of the bullpen and defense. “It was great appearances from all the guys that ended up throwing tonight. (Patrick) Wisdom at third, plays in the outfield, Duffy’s play in that eighth inning, that was impressive, too. All around, I think it was good baseball tonight.”
John Gant (4-9) pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits in his third start for the Twins since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals for J.A. Happ at the trade deadline.
“Definitely settling into the groove,” Gant said. “Bouncing back and forth from the rotation to the pen, to the rotation to the pen is kind of hard to find that strict routine. Three weeks in a row on a starter’s routine, I’m back in the swing of things, I would like to say.”
Two teams who had designs of being in the thick of the playoff race were left to match up with rebuilt rosters after trading away several established stars.
Minnesota has surprised with its first winning month of the season in August, including winning four straight home series against teams in either first or second place. Meanwhile, Chicago is 8-21 since the trade deadline.
“Regardless of what we tried to do today, we didn’t execute in the big moments and get it done,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We certainly could have scored more than a run. You play the game over, you have the chances, you just have to get it done when those guys are on base.”
Schwindel, claimed off waivers from Oakland in July, has been a surprise contributor since the Cubs switched to rebuilding mode. He has hit safely in 22 of his first 27 games with Chicago with six homers and 18 RBIs.
He started the day with a 1.009 OPS since July 30, the sixth-best mark in the National League over that stretch.
“He continues to have as good of at-bats as we have,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He’s been really consistent. … It’s been nice to watch Frankie, get to know him, watch him play. He’s a really, really good hitter.”
Cubs: C Willson Contreras started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, hitting a home run in three at-bats and also throwing out a runner trying to steal. Contreras has been out since Aug. 12 with a right knee sprain. … IF Sergio Alcántara ran before the game to test his right foot. Ross said Alcántara is day to day after fouling a ball off his foot on Sunday.
Twins: RHP Michael Pineda (left oblique strain) threw a successful 35-pitch bullpen session last week and is slated to throw live batting practice on Wednesday. Pineda has been out since Aug. 14. … One of the hitters planning to step in against Pineda is C Mitch Garver (low back tightness), who was placed on the injured list on Aug. 27. Baldelli said Garver is still feeling tightness and soreness in his back and wasn’t sure if he would produce many swings against Pineda.
The Twins will have RHP Joe Ryan make his major league debut as the starter on Wednesday as the teams wrap up a two-game series. Ryan, 25, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in July in the trade that sent Nelson Cruz to the Rays. Chicago will start LHP Justin Steele (2-2, 4.15 ERA). Steele will be making his fourth-straight start after pitching 11 games out of the bullpen.