One step forward, several steps back. After a sharp win over the White Sox last night, the Guardians came out looking like a dull pair of nail clippers tonight as they rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled their way to a 4-2 loss to their AL Central rivals.
First the good. Look at this fun home run from Will Brennan, including a tribute to the bird he unalived last night.
In memory of #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/CCBJz4NFvR— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) May 23, 2023
OK, enough fun.
On top of the usual pitching, offense, and defensive woes, the Guardians added a new wrinkle to the fold tonight: coaching. In the bottom of the fourth in a 1-0 game with two outs, Guardians third-base coach, Mike Sarbaugh, sent Josh Bell home as he rounded third. Unfortunately for both of them, Tim Anderson made an outstanding defensive play to snag a hard-hit ground ball and he had Bell dead to rights at home plate.
Now, to be fair to Sarbaugh (who is routinely a fantastic third-base coach), I don’t think anyone expected Anderson to make such an incredible defensive play when he sent Bell around third base in the bottom of the fourth. Saurbaugh gambled that he wouldn’t make it with two outs and lost. More of an unfortunate occurrence than a true blunder, but the Guardians have had many, many unfortunate occurrences this year. It’s kind of a trend.
Speaking of true blunders: Amed Rosario. Neither of his defensive miscues tonight were marked as errors, but between failing to grip a ball that he dove for, or missing a routine sliding grab altogether, he more than earned his one-percentile outs above average ranking tonight. He looked abysmal in the field, just as he does every night. But you can bet he’ll be there again tomorrow.
The only official error of the night was on a José Ramírez bobble that followed one of Rosario’s goof-em-ups, and ultimately led to runs. By that point, midway through the seventh inning, Logan Allen was already looking shaky on the mound. The error just opened the floodgates and helped turn a 2-1 lead into a 2-4 deficit quickly.
That inning wasn’t entirely fair to Allen, as he looked great the rest of the night but was clearly left in the game too long, as evident by the fact that Enyel De Los Santos came into the game and immediately shut down the top of the White Sox lineup with three straight strikeouts to prevent any further damage.
Maybe Terry Francona was leaving his rookie pitcher in the game to get out of his own jam and get a nice confidence boost, or maybe he just didn’t trust his bullpen. I can see the merits in both lines of thinking with how this season has gone, but it was clearly the wrong decision in hindsight. De Los Santos should have been brought in when the bases were loaded with no outs, instead of after the White Sox doubled home another run.
At least one small credit to Tito — he went to De Los Santos in a high-leverage situation and let James Karinchak work a bases-empty eighth inning instead of the other way around. Obviously, it would have been better to bring in De Los Santos a batter or two earlier, but at least he stopped pretending that Karinchak is a high-leverage pitcher. For now.
Either way, don’t let that one inning spoil the perception of an otherwise great night for the rookie starter, Allen. His sweeper induced six whiffs on 15 swings, and he finished with four strikeouts and one walk over his six innings of work. He held the White Sox hitless through 4.2 innings and looked to be on a Maddux-like pace before a Yasmani Grandal solo shot in the top of the fifth.
Eighth inning Josh Naylor didn’t come out to play tonight (a harmless ground out to end the inning didn’t get it done), but he did double on a 110.7-mph rocket. That was fun. Gabriel Arias also continued his nice hot streak of late, with a 109.8-mph double of his own in the second inning. Ramirez also narrowly missed a home run and had to settle for a triple. Here’s Clint Frazier attempting to catch it.
May 24, 2023
The Guardians just couldn’t clump together any of their eight hits tonight, and the result — like it has been so many times this season — was a loss because the offense couldn’t do squat when it mattered. They’ll try for the series win tomorrow.