First there was Zach Plesac’s second-inning implosion. Then there was the Cleveland Guardians’ furious comeback. Not long after that, Emmanuel Clase self-destructed in the ninth inning. Finally, the Guardians regained the lead in extras, but not without some drama courtesy of Eli Morgan.
This game was, for lack of a better term, drunk.
It wasn’t even safe in the hands of Emmanuel Clase, who was handed a hard-fought two-run lead in the ninth inning, only to surrender it with two outs. After issuing a four-pitch walk to Aledmys Díaz, he then gave up a game-tying home run to Seth Brown.
José Ramírez was the hero in the tenth inning. He fell behind 0-2 after whiffing on back-to-back fastballs but battled back in a seven-pitch at-bat culminating in an RBI single to plate the go-ahead run. Amed Rosario added an insurance run on a wild pitch.
José Ramírez is a mad man.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/BGl5Z676bQ— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) April 4, 2023
Eli Morgan pitched the bottom of the tenth. He retired the first two batters he faced but gave up a first-pitch RBI double to Esteury Ruiz with two outs, cutting the Guardians’ lead to 12-11. Fortunately, Morgan was able to get Tony Kemp to fly out to left field to secure the victory.
Steven Kwan’s leadoff double to open the game seemed to signal the start of a good night for the Guardians, as he eventually came around to score on a two-out single by Josh Naylor. Cleveland made it a 2-0 lead after Andrés Giménez dropped an RBI double into shallow right field on the chalk of the first base line. Unfortunately, Plesac, making his first start of the season, looked the part of a pitcher begging to be designated for assignment.
In his defense, I will concede that the run Plesac allowed in the first inning wasn’t entirely his fault. Rosario and Myles Straw let the third out of the inning drop between them, opening the door for Conner Capel to plate a run with a two-out infield single.
But Plesac bears responsibility for the disastrous second inning, during which he failed to record an out. He allowed five straight hits, capped by a three-run Jace Peterson homer, to turn a 2-1 lead into a 6-2 deficit. Plesac might as well have been pitching batting practice with the way he was serving up meatballs. For example, the Tony Kemp RBI single that scored the go-ahead run came on an 89.4 mph four-seam fastball down the heart of the plate.
Xzavion Curry was far more effective in relief of Plesac. Save for a two-run homer surrendered to Ramon Laureano in the fifth inning, Curry did his part to keep the game within reach through five innings of work. He only gave up three hits and struck out three.
While Curry went to work, so did the Guardians’ offense. Josh Naylor launched a solo home run off James Kaprielian in the fourth inning before Myles Straw pulled a hanging slider into left field for a two-run double, cutting the deficit to one run. Oakland was able to create more breathing room thanks to Laureano’s home run, but Cleveland was undeterred.
A baptism on a Monday night. Weird, but we'll allow it.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/bvDzLbl2RI— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) April 4, 2023
In the sixth inning, Will Brennan followed a Mike Zunino leadoff single with a grounder to second base, where Tony Kemp booted the ball to put runners on first and second. After a Myles Straw sacrifice bunt, Kwan hit a sac fly to left field to score Zunino. Brennan came around to score on a two-out Rosario RBI single, once again cutting the A’s lead to one run.
Oakland nearly added an insurance run in the seventh inning, when Laureano singled to right field with two outs and Seth Brown on second. Brown was waved home and Brennan delivered a perfect throw to Zunino, who tagged out Brown to end the inning.
The bird don't fly without Will's permission.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/UvnkUOQFB8— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) April 4, 2023
Trailing by one run in the eighth inning, Straw’s leadoff single got things started. He stole second, advancing to third on a single by Kwan and scoring on a Rosario sac fly. Ramírez then lined a single into right field, which was later ruled an RBI triple after it rolled past the glove of Conner Capel, allowing Kwan to score the go-ahead run.
Ramírez was able to give the Guardians an insurance run when he charged for home and narrowly avoided a tag after Josh Bell hit a flyout to shallow left field.
Alas, the two-run lead was not enough for Clase.
But in the end, Cleveland prevailed.