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Andres Gimenez, Richie Palacios come up clutch in 3-1 Guardians win

Have the Guardians finally found their next shortstop?

Cleveland Guardians v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

A day after he hit a grand slam in the third inning to win one lucky fan a Ford Bronco, Andres Gimenez gave the rest of Cleveland the next best thing: a good day of baseball. And you don’t even have to pay interest or insurance on it.

Gimenez’s only hit of the day was a clutch RBI in the fourth inning that gave the Guardians a 1-0 lead. Sheldon Neuse hit a solo home run for the A’s in the next inning to tie the game at 1-1, where it sat for most of the game.

It’s always difficult to know when the Guardians are involved in a pitcher’s duel or their own lineup just can’t hit while they have another ace on the mound. I’m not sure what today truly was, but Shane Bieber was certainly dealing against the A’s. His velocity was still terrifyingly low — peaking at 92.3 mph and sitting in the 90-91 range — but he worked his off-speed stuff for 12 whiffs and the result was a season-high 105 pitches and seven strikeouts over 7.0 innings of work, with the only blemish being the aforementioned home run.

This was arguably Bieber’s best start of the five he’s made so far this season, and it’s the first time he’s made it past the sixth inning.

Only Steven Kwan, making his first start in a week, recorded more than one hit for the Guardians. Clutchiness ended up being the deciding factor here, as the Guardians were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position, while the A’s were hitless in eight attempts.

The most clutch hit of all came from rookie Richie Palacios in the top of the ninth as he pinch-hit for noted lineup black hole Austin Hedges. Big Time Richie doubled on a high line drive that led Cristian Pache into the wall. Owen Miller and Andres Gimenez, who reached via a single and error earlier in the inning, both scored to give the Guardians their final 3-1 lead.

That could have quickly been undone, though, if Gimenez hadn’t turned around and made a sensational defensive play to get the lead-off batter in the bottom of the ninth.

If that ball gets by Gimenez — or heaven forbid he completely misses the mark on the throw after the spin — this could have been a disastrous ninth inning instead of a relatively quick save for Emmanuel Clase.

As it is, Guardians win. They’re officially on a winning streak and will go for the sweep in Oakland tomorrow.