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CLEVELAND — The Twins and Guardians played 19 times this season and each team scored exactly 89 runs against each other. But the numbers lie. As this weekend proved once again, the teams are not close to being equal.

Sonny Gray got hurt, and the Twins got hammered. It's hard to imagine a more symbolic sendoff to a weekend they had hoped would salvage their season than Monday's 11-4 thrashing at Progressive Field.

The Guardians won four times in five games, winning tight games and blowouts, by rallying from behind and leading from in front. They outpitched and outhit the Twins' makeshift lineup and inconsistent pitching staff, and all but seized their first AL Central championship since 2018 — they lead the White Sox by four games and visit Chicago for a three-game series that begins Tuesday.

"We had opportunities to win these ballgames. We have to do more," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We didn't play good enough. So we'll look in the mirror as we walk out of here and say, 'We had these opportunities in front of us and we need to do a better job.'"

Put that on next year's to-do list, because the Twins' 2022 season is effectively over. Monday's ugly finale dropped Minnesota seven games out of first place — actually eight, since Cleveland owns the postseason tiebreaker — with a mere 15 games remaining in an ultimately disappointing season.

Now they have to determine whether Gray's season is over, too. The righthander has been brilliant since the All-Star break, posting a 1.81 ERA in 10 starts before Monday. But he revealed after the game that he's been pitching this month with nagging pain in his right hamstring, the same injury that landed him on the injured list in April. It was worse Monday, and when Gray walked off the mound after giving up four runs in two innings, "we realized he was no longer going to be able to go," Baldelli said.

The manager declined to say that Gray's season is over, but noted that "we have limited time, so to think that he's going to get back to full strength and to be able to pitch, it would be tight."

Ronny Henriquez took over and had a relatively successful major league debut, throwing three shutout innings to give the Twins a chance to rally within one run. Nick Gordon singled a run home and hit a solo home run, and the Twins loaded the bases in the sixth inning with one out. But pinch hitter Mark Contreras lined a pitch to first baseman Josh Naylor, who stepped on the bag to double off Matt Wallner and kill the threat.

Henriquez then gave up three runs, Jorge Lopez four, and Baldelli had to turn to infielder Jermaine Palacios to finish the game.

"It obviously ended on a really tough note," Baldelli said. "The series was tough. We lost a couple of more competitive, tighter ballgames. That's not the way you want to end it, end the series with what our expectation level was coming in, so that's hard."

It's also consistent. The Twins went 8-27 against teams that are in first place, and only 6-13 against the Guardians, their worst showing against Cleveland since going 4-14 in 2007. Most annoying is the Guardians' penchant for rallying in the late innings, and pulling out close games. Cleveland's 13 victories over the Twins included eight one-run victories.

"They just do all the little things right. They play the game, they hustle, they make plays. Situational hitting, they do all those things," Gordon said in a whisper-quiet clubhouse. "They're a good ballclub."

The Twins, now below .500 again at 73-74, haven't been able to say that about themselves for awhile.