The 2022 Guardians are either the most clutch team ever, or the least clutch team ever on any given night. There is no in-between. Unfortunately, they were the latter in the nightcap of their doubleheader against the Tigers as they fell, 7-4.
Amed Rosario was the primary culprit tonight, as he came up to the plate with runners on base in three of his four at-bats, and he hit into an out every time, including two devasting double plays. In terms of win probability added — a measurement of a team’s win probability before and after each at-bat — Rosario was dead last at -0.34. The next worst was Josh Naylor at -0.02 because he flew out in his only at-bat before leaving with a sore ankle.
The one time Cleveland came with some firepower (home runs from Andrés Giménez and Luke Maile) it was a lack of clutch that really cost them.
Granted, that wasn’t the only thing that cost them. It also didn’t help that Eli Morgan and Bryan Shaw looked awful against the worst lineup in baseball. Morgan was trusted with holding a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning and failed miserably, giving up back-to-back home runs before finally getting back on track and recording three outs. All the changeup movement in the world can’t save him when it’s all he has to go with a Home Run Derby-worthy fastball.
Where Morgan’s fall from grace in the last month is surprising, Bryan Shaw giving up runs in the year of our lord 2022 is not. The blood pact he has with manager Terry Francona took hold again tonight and he was left in the game despite showing zero control through three batters. He stayed in to face Tucker Barnhart, who singled home a run. Because of course he did. Sam Hentges got a pair of strikeouts but allowed another run to score on a Victor Reyes single, which gave the Tigers their final lead of 7-4.
Xzavion Curry certainly wasn’t perfect in his MLB debut, but there was a lot to like early on. He absolutely victimized fellow rookie Riley Greene with this breaking ball — categorized as a slider by Baseball Savant but with some wicket curveball-looking movement.
Xzavion Curry, Disgusting 83mph Breaking Ball.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2022
1st Major League K. pic.twitter.com/SwWoJOMZqw
If nothing else, throwing a pitch in the first inning of your debut that is so nasty it ends up Pitching Ninja has to mean you’re doing something right.
Curry hung on for five innings, allowing three earned runs off eight hits with three strikeouts and a lone walk. Old friend Willi Castro bailed him out in the third by getting caught stealing, but other than that Curry did a decent job working out of his own jams.
The loss is hardly the end of the world, however. Cleveland still holds a lead in the AL Central and they’ve won eight of their last 10 overall. Kwan added another two hits in the loss, and Oscar Gonzalez almost sparked a rally with his ninth-inning double. And, honestly, I’m just happy Kwan wasn’t blown to bits when he and Will Benson almost collided going for a pop fly in the outfield. Cooler heads prevailed and they let the run score instead of potentially causing a gruesome injury.
Forget about the loss and win tomorrow.