The Cleveland Guardians forgot to pack their bats for their trip to New York and spent most of Friday night flailing at the plate in a 4-1 series-opening loss to the Yankees.
Eli Morgan managed to hold the Yankees scoreless the first time through the order, only surrendering a walk to Aaron Judge. But with two outs in the third inning, Morgan faced the top of the order again and walked D.J. LeMahieu on five pitches. He then proceeded to fall behind in the count against Judge and served up a meatball that ended up in the seats in right center field, giving New York a 2-0 lead. Morgan finished with five strikeouts over three innings of work.
The Guardians came close to erasing the two-run deficit in the bottom half of the third inning. Franmil Reyes cut it to one run with a one-out homer before Josh Naylor singled and Amed Rosario doubled to put runners at second and third. But Bobby Bradley came to the plate and promptly struck out on three pitches, and Bryan Lavastida flew out to right field.
Manager Terry Francona made the bizarre decision to bring in Logan Allen in relief of Morgan and the result was predictable. He walked Josh Donaldson on four pitches and then allowed back-to-back two-out singles to Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the latter scoring Donaldson to restore the Yankees’ two-run lead. With Tanner Tully on the mound making his major league debut in the fifth inning, Judge homered again to make it a three-run lead.
Cleveland’s last opportunity to close the gap came in the fifth inning. Andres Gimenez led off the inning with an infield single, hustling down the line and sliding into first base to beat the pitcher to the bag. With one out, Steven Kwan singled to center and Gimenez made the bone-headed decision to try and go from first to third. He was thrown out at third base by Judge.
The Guardians had no answer for Yankees right-hander Michael King, who took over for starting pitcher Jameson Taillon in the sixth inning and proceeded to wipe out pretty much every batter he faced. He pitched three scoreless innings and finished the night with eight strikeouts.
One positive: Bryan Lavastida collected his first career big league hit in the third inning, sneaking an opposite field grounder past Gleyber Torres at second base.
Josh Naylor continued his hot start to the season. He came into the night slashing .429/.467/.500 in 15 plate appearances and went for 2-for-4 while earning the distinction of being the only member of the Guardians’ lineup not to strike out Friday night.