The Cleveland Guardians’ dumpster fire of a bullpen blew a 3-1 lead late in the game Friday night, as Eli Morgan and Sam Hentges combined to give up three runs over the final two frames en route to a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
The first seven innings were essentially a pitcher’s duel between Aaron Civale and Brady Singer — or a pillow fight between lackluster lineups, depending on your perspective. Setting aside the quality of the opposing team’s lineup, Civale was as good as he has looked all season. He limited Kansas City to six hits and one earned run over seven innings, striking out six. Singer would have matched Civale if not for a mistake pitch to Franmil Reyes on a 3-0 count in the seventh inning, which Reyes deposited into the right field stands for a two-run homer.
The Guardians’ 3-1 lead that came courtesy of Reyes’ two-run blast was short-lived though, as Eli Morgan extended his worst stretch of the season by giving up a two-run homer to Whit Merrifield in the eighth inning to allow the Royals to pull even.
Cleveland had an opportunity to re-take the lead in the top of the ninth inning, loading the bases with one out. But Myles Straw and his noodle for a bat couldn’t get the ball out of the infield and Steven Kwan lined out to right field to leave all three baserunners stranded. Sam Hentges put the team out of their misery in the bottom of the inning, giving up a leadoff double to Vinnie Pasquantino and then a one-out RBI single to Michael Taylor to give the Royals a walk-off win.
One of the highlights of this season has been seeing players from the Guardians’ farm system make their major league debuts, and Friday night saw Nolan Jones get his long-awaited turn. The former top prospect was 2-for-3 on the night, including an RBI double into the right field corner in his first at-bat to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead in the second inning.