Eli Morgan came to play Saturday night. The rest of his team? Not so much. After a one-hour rain delay, the Cleveland Guardians dropped a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
Morgan followed up his impressive start against the Blue Jays earlier this week with another solid outing. In the longest outing of his big league career, Morgan went seven innings and surrendered six hits, one walk, and two earned runs. A pair of leadoff doubles, one in the second inning and the other in the fifth, are ultimately what came back to bite him. His changeup did its thing, accounting for 28% of his pitches and finishing the night with a 40% CSW%.
Morgan’s strong start went to waste thanks to an inexplicably inept performance by the Guardians lineup. Facing Detroit starting pitcher Tyler Alexander, who came into the game with a 4.77 ERA and 4.78 FIP, weak contact was all Cleveland could seem to muster against him. It was reminiscent of Wade Miley’s no-hitter from earlier this season. They only swung and missed six times all night against Alexander, but he consistently threw his cut fastball for strikes.
The Guardians’ best chance at finally breaking through and putting runs on the board came in the sixth inning. With one out, Ernie Clement reached on an infield single, before Myles Straw dropped a single in front of Victor Reyes in right field. Tigers manager A.J. Hinch pulled the plug on Alexander and brought in Michael Fulmer, who loaded the bases after Amed Rosario legged out an infield single on a swinging bunt. Bases loaded with one out, José Ramírez at the plate, and Franmil Reyes on deck? That’s exactly what you want if you’re Cleveland.
Unfortunately, the heart of the Guardians lineup failed to deliver. Fulmer attacked Ramírez with sliders and eventually got him to fly out to shallow left field on a 3-2 pitch. Reyes grounded out to end the inning, stranding all three baserunners and leaving the shutout intact.
Cleveland loaded the bases again in the seventh inning, albeit with two outs. But Hinch took the ball from reliever Kyle Funkhouser and handed it to José Cisnero to face Myles Straw, who grounded out to end the inning on a 3-2 four-seam fastball.
The Tigers practically gift-wrapped the bottom of the eighth inning for them, giving up an infield single to Rosario before Cisnero botched the throw to second base on a potential double-play ball from José Ramírez, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But Reyes fouled out to first base, Harold Ramirez popped out to first, and Oscar Mercado struck out to end the inning.
Wilson Ramos, making his Cleveland debut, notched three hits on the night, including a solo home run in the ninth inning that represented the Guardians’ only run of the game.
Gone to souvenir city! #OurCLE pic.twitter.com/SUIpkAyW0g— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) August 8, 2021
Owen Miller singled in the ninth to put the tying run on base, but the Guardians couldn’t bring him home, due in no small part to home plate umpire Greg Gibson’s bizarre strike zone:
As a team, the Guardians left 10 men on base. Good work, everyone.