If you ditched your beloved first-place Cleveland Guardians to watch the Browns tonight, I’d love to tell you that you made a mistake. I would probably be lying because you didn’t really miss a whole lot here. This game certainly wasn’t as painful as Twitter is making the Browns one sound, but the exhilarating playoff atmosphere of the first two games was gone as the White Sox looked utterly deflated in the 4-2 loss and the Guards coasted to a sweep.
To go with a basketball analogy: If yesterday’s game was LeBron chasing down Andre Iguodala, tonight was Allen Iverson stepping over Ty Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals. Short, simple, sent a message. The White Sox are already down and out and the Guardians quietly stepped over them on their way to a sweep, and hopefully, the postseason.
For proof that the Guardians have zero respect for the White Sox’s disguting brand of baseball, look no further than Andrés Giménez’s first at-bat of the game. In the first inning, with runners on the corner and two outs, Giménez put a perfect bunt down that forced Yoán Moncada to field the ball and attempt a throw. He dropped it instead, and José Ramírez scored from third. Even with the stellar bunt, a good third baseman probably could have made that play, or at least made it close. Moncada wasn’t close, and Giménez probably guessed he wouldn’t be.
That kind of sloppy defense is a shock to the system for anyone who has watched the Guardians all year, but it sounds like par for the course for the White Sox this year.
Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan provided Cleveland’s only extra-base hits with a double and triple, respectively. Kwan took half the game off as the team’s designated hitter and went 1-for-5 with that lone RBI triple as his only hit. Naylor’s double, meanwhile, was the hardest hit ball of the game at 111.2 mph. He also had some, um, thoughts for the White Sox’s bench after the hit.
Shane Bieber threw exactly 100 pitches in his 7.2 innings of work; a very 2022 Shane Bieber outing with “only” five strikeouts, but no walks and two earned runs. Curiously enough, Bieber’s slider took a backseat tonight as he threw it only 18 times. Coming into the game, his slider was used 29% of the time, his second most-frequent pitch behind his four-seamer (35%). Tonight it was the cutter (32%) and that nasty knuckle curveball (28%) that stole the show.
At one point Bieber retired 12 straight White Sox batters, a stretch snapped when Yasmani Grandal singled in the seventh. Gavin Sheets would hit a solo home run to lead off the eighth, followed two batters later by a Moncada double. Bieber’s night was done after that and Trevor Stephan was called to get José Abreu out swinging, followed by the typical Emmanuel Clase greatness to close out the game and get the save in the ninth.
The win drops Cleveland’s magic number to five as they finish the season series against the White Sox with a record of 12-7.