It’s official — the Cleveland Guardians are the most infuriating team in baseball. Mostly for their opponents, but also sometimes for their fans. In the same game where they stranded 13 runners and went 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position, they also refused to go away and kept scoring runs until they ground the Mariners to dust and forced them to make a mistake. They kept it together just long enough to win, 7-6, in 12 innings. This is the way.
This game featured the full spectrum of baseball emotions. The highs of seeing your team walk off, the lows of watching Amed Rosario come up to bat with the winning run on base in extra innings and strike out looking (twice!). The confusion of watching Zach Plesac look like toast in the first inning, yet somehow turn it on and shut down the Mariners for six more. The proud parent-like satisfaction of seeing Will Brennan play the hero in extra innings.
If one or two balls in the 12th inning bounce differently, this goes down another frustrating game of missed opportunities, but fate was on the Guardians’ side tonight. After a back-and-forth set of extra innings — in which the Guardians lost and regained their share of the lead twice — the way they ultimately won was the most Guardians Brand™️ baseball imaginable:
- Down by a run, José Ramírez was intentionally walked to lead off the 12th.
- The pitcher attempted a throw to second base that missed and allowed the runners to advance.
- Josh Naylor grounded out to first, which scored a run.
- Andrés Giménez was also intentionally walked and stole a base to take away the double play.
- Josh Bell grounded out to score Ramírez from third, who hustled his way to the plate and narrowly avoided a tag to walk off and take the season series from the Mariners.
Just ... what?!
It cannot be understated just how important Giménez’s steal was in that sequence, as well. Without it, Bell would probably ground out in an inning-ending double play, but since Giménez vacated first base, Seattle was forced to attempt a throw home, which Ramírez beat by a hair. Giménez was worth every penny of the contract before this game, but this reinforced how great he really is. The two hits earlier in the game (including an RBI double in the 11th) also helped with that, but still.
Also proving how great he is in this game was Brennan, who came up clutch twice with pure ice in his veins. First, in the bottom of the ninth with two on and two out, he hit a ball to deep right field that bounced in an out of Teoscar Hernandez’s glove to tie the game, kickstarting the insanity was extra-innings baseball in Cleveland tonight. He was 0-for-3 prior to that hit, and no one would have blinked an eye if he grounded out and ended the game there.
Instead, well, I just told you what happened. But here’s the video proof.
The second clutch hit came after Giménez’s 11th-inning double when Brennan hit a single that narrowly made it past a diving Kolten Wong.
It was somewhere after Brennan’s first unbelievably clutch hit I happily deleted a mostly finished recap to sit and enjoy the game again. Because, despite a manageable one-run deficit for most of the game, the Guardians looked like a cooked offense — at the very least, a team ready to take an early night and try again tomorrow.
For roughly eight innings, this game felt awfully familiar. A Guardians pitcher started the game in trouble but still managed to turn in a solid start while the offense couldn’t get any runners home. Oh, right, it was the same game that happened yesterday with Cal Quantrill on the mound.
Zach Plesac was the victim of a sleepy offense this time around, as he struggled in the first inning, but absolutely locked in for seven innings of work. He struck out six and did not allow a run past the two that crossed in the first inning. He was all over the place in the first as his four-seamer took out a home loan and built a property in the middle of the plate. Five balls were put in play, and most of them hit hard, capped off by Cal Raleigh’s 375-foot home run.
Raleigh’s homer was on one of Plesac’s better pitches of the inning, too — a low and away changeup that he just went down and got. Simply a bad break for Plesac, but at the time it seemed like it could have been much worse. Once he settled in, though, he was able to keep the four-seamer higher to pair with his lower slider and changeup.
The heroics of Brennan and friends allowed me to bury this further in the recap — but holy hell what a terrible game for Amed Rosario. At first, it was just a couple of misplays at shortstop. Three stood out in particular, though only one was an error.
Similar to Rosario’s inability to get a ball in the first series against the Mariners, today in the second inning he politely allowed Giménez to cut in front of him and field a ball that he had a much worse angle on. Unlike in that first game, though, Giménez couldn’t turn the heroic play, and it allowed a runner to reach base. An inning later, in the third, Rosario’s error came on a ball that he just couldn’t seem to pick up despite multiple attempts. And finally, in the sixth, he had to double-clutch a ball that could have been a double play but turned into a bang-bang play at first when the ball was a split-second late. Three plays that your starting shortstop should probably make.
Those misplays pale in comparison to the awful time he had at the plate when it mattered most, though. On two separate occasions, Mariners manager Scott Servais did everything he could to intentionally walk his way to Rosario, showing absolutely no fear of his bat. And both times, Rosario obliged by watching strike-threes go by without a swing. He finished 0-for-6 with two strikeouts and single-handedly stranded eight runners on base.
Luckily for Rosario, the unhinged 12th inning happened and the Guardians get to say goodbye to the Mariners with a win, instead of all the focus being on his poor play — arguably his worst game in Cleveland ever — for one game. One good streak can erase all that anyway, and he’s probably going to get plenty of chances to go on that streak.
So for now, the story of this game gets to be Will Brennan and Josh Bell coming through in the clutch.