The Cleveland Guardians’ lineup finally showed signs of life against a team with a record above .500 but ultimately came up short against the San Diego Padres in a 5-4 loss.
Command was an issue for Cleveland starter Zach Plesac in the loss. He only allowed five hits over five innings pitched but surrendered four walks. Aside from a home run that exited the stadium at 108 mph, the Padres really weren’t able to put the barrel to many of his pitches. Eric Hosmer’s two-out RBI single in the first inning was an 80 mph liner to shallow center field.
With one out in the third inning, Andrés Giménez made an incredible play to stop a grounder hit to shallow right field but Josh Naylor dropped the ball at first base, allowing Jake Cronenworth to reach on an error. Manny Machado made sure it hurt, tattooing a four-seam fastball up in the zone for a two-run homer the very next at-bat to extend the Padres’ lead to 3-0.
Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger labored through his return to Progressive Field. He was reported to be on a limited pitch count in his first start since being activated from the injured list, but San Diego manager Bob Melvin let him throw 95 pitches. Clevinger went 4.2 innings, giving up four hits, three walks, and three earned runs while striking out four.
The Guardians managed to break through against Clevinger in the third inning. Unfortunately, they were only able to plate a single run, but Clevinger needed 33 pitches to get through the inning after only throwing 27 in the first two frames combined.
After a leadoff double courtesy of Luke Maile, Richie Palacios worked an impressive nine-pitch at-bat that ended in an infield single to put runners at the corners. Myles Straw flew out to right before Steven Kwan scored Maile on an RBI single through the gap on the right side of the infield. Clevinger struck out José Ramírez and Owen Miller to strand Palacios and Kwan.
Cleveland’s next best opportunity came in the fifth inning. The Guardians loaded the bases with two outs thanks to three walks, two of which came against Clevinger before he was told to hit the showers. Josh Naylor lined an RBI single to right field off Padres reliever Steven Wilson, plating a pair to tie the game at 3-3. Wilson then walked Amed Rosario to load the bases again but struck out Giménez to prevent the Guardians from taking the lead.
After barely surviving the fifth inning, during which he walked the bases loaded and needed an inning-ending Eric Hosmer groundout to escape unscathed, Plesac was sent back out for the sixth inning of a tie game. It proved to be a poor decision by Cleveland manager Terry Francona, as Plesac promptly gave up back-to-back singles before being pulled in favor of Enyel De Los Santos. Both baserunners came around to score, giving the Padres a 5-3 lead.
The Guardians were able to cut it to a one-run deficit in the seventh inning. With one out, Miller reached on an infield single and Naylor doubled down the third base line to put runners on second and third. Miller scored on an RBI groundout from Amed Rosario, but Naylor was left stranded when Giménez grounded out to first to end the inning.
But Cleveland failed to score in the eighth and ninth innings.
On a positive note, Sam Hentges made his seventh straight scoreless relief appearance, retiring all six batters he faced and striking out three in two innings of work.