You win some, you lose some, and sometimes you lose twice before your regularly scheduled game was even supposed to start. A little over 30 minutes before the Guardians were originally supposed to start today’s game against the Tigers, they already lost twice and fell to 9-9 on the season.
The good news? Between the traditional doubleheader and the speed of 2023 baseball, both games combined clocked in at just under five hours.
The Guardians blew Game 1, plain and simple. Hunter Gaddis wasn’t ace-like in the start or anything, but he did enough to leave the Guards in a position to win when he exited after five frames.
Admittedly, the first inning made it seem like this would be another short start for Gaddis, after he allowed the first two baserunners to get on base and struggled to find the strikezone. But after giving up a first-inning run (as is customary for Guardians starting pitchers this season), he finished the game giving up a total of three off of eight hits in his five innings of work. He also struck out one and walked one.
Gaddis gave up a lot of hard contact, including a handful of balls hit over 100 mph, but he was able to wiggle his way out of most jams. He never truly looked in command out there, though. Sixty-three of his 82 pitches were variations of his fastball (33 cutters, 30 four-seamers), and he mixed in 12 changeups and seven curveballs. The curveball was especially nice, inducing whiffs on two of three swings.
It wasn’t just Gaddis, though — blowing this game was a team effort. Even James Karinchak, who blew the last opportunity to avoid a loss, wasn’t solely to blame. Outside of a mini rally in the top of the fourth inning, the offense just didn’t show up today, in either game.
Peyton Battenfield looked solid for the second start in a row in Game 2. His only real mistake today was an outside fastball to Riley Greene that caught a bit too much of the plate and ended up in the outfield seats. Like Gaddis in the early game, Battenfield gave up some hard contact but most of it didn’t do damage. He was also fastball-heavy, with 48 cutters and 28 four-seamers.
It’s not completely fair to compare the two pitchers when one is facing a fresh lineup in Game 1 and the other is going in Game 2 on a cold and miserable day, but seeing them back-to-back really showed how much more composed and in control Battenfield looks on the mound. I get that’s very subjective, but these games were objectively terrible so I’m working with what I’ve got here.
If you didn’t see these games unfold live — and, by god, don’t bother seeking out highlights — comparing the release points of Gaddis and Battenfield gives a taste of how much trouble Gaddis had finding a consistent groove.
The Guardians offense completely vanished in Game 2, so much so that’s it’s hardly worth mentioning. José Ramírez donned a golden sombrero, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and Andrés Giménez bunted late in the game when the Guardians were down by a run. Predictably, this set up Gabriel Arias and Steven Kwan (who pinch-hit for Cam Gallagher) to get out and end any hope of a rally.
This is undoubtedly the lowest point of the season so far. But remember it can always get worse. It could also get better.
Anyway, go Cavs.