The Guardians’ 7-2 win over the Rangers tonight was a showcase of all the guys you hoped would contribute this season but were never quite sure if they would.
Oscar Mercado and Yu Chang each had two hits and homered, while Owen Miller and Bradley Zimmer each added hits of their own. Newcomer Myles Straw added a single as the only member of the top-third of the lineup to get a hit. Straw, Amed Rosario, and José Ramírez combined to go 1-for-13 with a walk and two strikeouts. It didn’t matter though, because everyone else showed up.
Mercado got the party started with a solo shot in his first at-bat. Rookie Jake Latz, who is only making his MLB debut because the Rangers have been devasted by a wave of COVID cases, learned the hard way that you can’t just leave a four-seamer dead center over the plate — even against Oscar Mercado.
Chang’s home run (his fifth of the season) came in the bottom of the fifth inning to give Zach Plesac a bit of a cushion. Austin Hedges followed it up two batters later with another solo shot to make it 3-0.
Combined with an RBI double later in the game and a tremendous effort play diving over the dugout railing, Chang had one of his best games ever tonight. He didn’t make the catch, but by god it’s an A for effort.
Head over heels! pic.twitter.com/anqZhj3Vhh— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) August 26, 2021
Two hits ties a career-high for Chang, and this is just the second time he’s had a multi-extra-base-hit game. Coincidentally, the last came on Aug. 13 against the Tigers when he tripled and homered. Maybe he can just extend his ability to dominate bad pitchers — and nobody else — into a lengthy MLB career? You could do a lot worse than that.
Franmil Reyes recorded the hardest hit of the game, this 111.8 mph blast in the seventh inning that extended Cleveland’s lead from 5-2 to 6-2.
Home run no. 23 for the Franimal! #OurCLE pic.twitter.com/HTdadAD4MN— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) August 26, 2021
Reyes still might not be back back but this was his third home run in the last week, so hopefully he’s getting there. The ball traveled 451 feet according to Statcast’s initial measurements; assuming there isn’t another Abraham Almonte glitch situation, that would be the sixth-longest home run of his career and the 13th farthest hit ball by a Cleveland batter in the Statcast Era (since 2015). The dictionary definition of “dude crushed it.”
The offensive firepower gave Zach Plesac a volume of breathing room that few Cleveland pitchers ever get. He didn’t need all of the runway he was given, but he did walk three batters in 5.2 innings and didn’t look his sharpest. Still, he struck out four and limited the Rangers to just two runs and a home run.
Even James Karinchak and Blake Parker looked solid, striking out a combined four of the eight batters they faced. Karinchak was brought in to get out of a two-out, runner-on-second jam — he closed out the sixth with a strikeout then recovered from a lead-off single in the seventh to pitch a clean inning there as well.
After Emmanuel Clase shut the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, Cleveland was officially back at .500. They’ll look for a series win tomorrow night with a Sam Hentges leading off a bullpen game.