The Guardians had several chances to win this game but couldn’t close it out in a four-hour marathon of a baseball game. They ultimately fell to the twins, 8-7, in 11 innings.
For all of its faults, the Manfred Runner rule has done a good job at stopping games from going past the 10th inning. If that was its only goal, then fine, it works. One team or the other can typically manage to get a runner from the second to home, and that’s that.
But not these teams. They decided to turn it up to 11 with some shoddy defense and inept hitting in the 10th.
Before we get to that, though, there were nine regulation innings to discuss.
Zach Plesac was his worst enemy today, after pitching an effective — though not spectacular — four innings of work. He allowed a pair of runs to score through the first four frames, the worst being a lead-off homer by Miguel Sanó, but it wasn’t his worst showing of the year.
Then the fifth inning happened.
Plesac started with two quick outs — Max Kepler, struck out and Jorge Polanco fouled out — but it was that one little walk to Brent Rooker in-between that was a sign of bad things to come. Josh Donaldson singled and Luis Arraez followed plated a run with a single of his own. Then, after Sanó doubled to clear the bases, Plesac’s day was done.
Alex Young, recently claimed off of waivers, was brought in to clean up the mess but he only made it worse by allowing three straight two-out hits. By the time the dust settled, the Twins had stormed back from a 2-5 deficit to take a 7-5 lead. Plesac’s day concluded with five earned runs and two strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work. It’s the fourth time since coming off the injured list on July 7 that he has allowed four or more earned runs in a start.
Of his 73 total pitches, just four were swung on and missed compared to a whopping 18 balls put into play at an average of 93 mph. The deception that helped carry him to a 27.7% strikeout rate and 3.39 ERA last season just isn’t there right now. It doesn’t appear to be an issue with missing sticky stuff, either.
To their credit, everyone in the bullpen not named Alex had a pretty good day. Blake Parker cleaned up the seventh inning after Young issued a lead-off walk, while Bryan Shaw and Emmanuel Clase each had perfect eighth and ninth innings; Nick Wittgren held the Twins scoreless in the bottom of the 10th. Even Justin Garza, who gave up the winning run, was the victim of some bad luck and an inexperienced Owen Miller botching a play at first base before Jorge Polanco hit a liner to right field for the win.
Guardians and Twins outfielders exchanged great diving catches in extra innings as Myles Straw laid out for one and Twins were flying all over the field. In addition to his defensive theatrics, Straw also went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and his 14th double of the season.
As for the rest of the lineup, it was the guys you want to have big games who had big games — but no one else. Franmil Reyes hit his first home run of August and José Ramírez hit his 27th of the season to help the Guardians jump out to a quick lead in the first. Ramírez also provided the spark for Cleveland to come back in the top of the ninth, first doubling to score Myles Straw, then making it home on a wild pitch two batters later.
But Cleveland also 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners. The bottom third of the order (including Andrés Giménez pinch-hitting for Yu Chang late in the game) went 0-for-11 with three walks. Ernie Clement had a great defensive play at third to prologue the game in the 10th, but he also stranded five runners by himself. That’s not gonna get it done.
The Guardians officially dropped the series, 2-1, and have an off-day tomorrow before returning home for a weekend series against the Angels.