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Maybe the Guardians are just bad now

When does a bad start become a bad team?

Cleveland Guardians v Chicago White Sox Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Last year’s Guardians team was fun, but even at the time, no one would tell you with a straight face that it wasn’t ahead of schedule. Being the youngest team in baseball by a country mile and not losing 100 games gets some good headlines, but there are going to be growing pains. They seemingly skipped over those last year on their way to the playoffs.

But maybe it’s time to admit that they’re back on their original schedule. Maybe they’re not a team made entirely of wunderkinds who solved baseball the moment they made it to The Show. Maybe they’re not ready to make the leap that every great team needs to make. Chalk it up to a slow start or whatever you want, but there have been dramatically few moments of joy in the first six weeks of the 2023 season.

Tonight was no different as they looked more like a rebuilding team than one with their sights set on the postseason. They fell, 7-2, to the White Sox.

Oh sure, there was a chance to score some runs in the seventh inning when multiple White Sox pitchers couldn’t get a third strike to save their lives, but the Guardians bailed them out by squandering a bases-loaded, no-out situation. Their only run that inning came from a bases-loaded walk by Josh Bell, and that came after three straight full counts. The supposed heart of the lineup (granted, it’s without José Ramírez at the moment), came up in the perfect scoring environment and the best they could muster was a strike out, fly out, walk, and strike out.

Pick a way that your baseball team can lose games, and the Guardians have found them this season. Tonight it was a mix of bad starting pitching and a lack of clutch hitting.

They weren’t without baserunners, as they racked up six hits and four walks against Mike Clevinger alone. They should have scored more than a paltry two runs tonight — if only they weren’t 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

The starting pitching came down to Peyton Battenfield giving up nine hits and five earned runs through 4.1 innings. He has maybe the least intimidating four-seamer I’ve ever seen, and it was hammered tonight on multiple occasions. All three of his home runs were off of weak fastballs in the worst possible location.

Peyton Battenfield’s home runs.
Baseball Savant

Amed Rosario, who was the designated hitter because Terry Francona wanted to get him off his feet but “keep his bat in the lineup” went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a game-ending double play.

At least we got to see Brayan Rocchio commit the first error of his career as a starting shortstop when he short-hopped Josh Bell in the sixth inning. Thanks to a pinch-hit single from David Fry, we also saw the first hit by a Guardians catcher in the month of May.

It is May 17.

The Guardians will look to avoid a sweep tomorrow.