After a rousing display of clutch hitting Friday night, the Cleveland Guardians turned sour in an early Saturday game. Perhaps the 6:10 p.m. ET start time through them off. Or, perhaps, they can’t rely on Ernie Clement to be Superman every night.
José Ramírez did his best to pick up that mantle tonight, going 2-for-5 with a triple and double — two of the hardest-hit balls of the game. Zimmer had two hits as well hitting out of the two-hole, but the rest of the lineup failed to provide much out of a spare hit and walk.
As a team, they struck out 12 times, left nine on base, and went just 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position. In the second inning, a lead-off walk followed by a double from Oscar Mercado should have set up some kind of further scoring. But with a runner in scoring position and no outs, the Guardians preceded to strike out three times in a row to end the inning. And again, in the third, with runners on the corners and no outs, they came away empty-handed thanks to a pair of flyouts and a Ramos whiff.
The lack of clutchness was on display most in the seventh inning. Down by one at that point, Franmil Reyes stuck out with runners on second and third. Ramos followed it up by grounding out and getting a run home in the most excruciating way possible, but Oscar Mercado flied out to end any semblance of a rally.
To be fair to Franmil, the game wouldn’t even have been a one-run difference if he didn’t plate a run in the top of the fifth. But, man, doing something other than striking out would have been great.
From that point on, Cleveland managed just one base-runner (an Andrés Giménez walk in the eighth) and struck out four times in the last two innings.
The Guardians went with an improvised bullpen game, and it almost sort of worked. Sam Hentges induced just three swinging strikes with his 44 pitches, but he only allowed three earned runs in two innings. That’s a good day at the office right there. The game wasn’t truly out of each until Bryan Shaw gave up a two-run single to Eric Haase in the eighth. That gave the Tigers a 6-4 lead — insurmountable for Bradley Zimmer, José Ramírez, and Franmil Reyes in the bottom of the ninth.
The series finale — as well as the season finale between these two clubs — goes down at 1:10 p.m. ET tomorrow afternoon.